Pravin Jadhav joining Deepika Kumari for archery’s mixed pair event, instead of Atanu Das, appears to be a mistake tactically, though going by the rankings it was a fair call. The last-minute change in pairing put India out of the medal race at the Tokyo Games on Saturday.
Deepika and Jadhav looked out of sorts and lost 2-6 to Korea in the quarter finals. That the two Korean Olympic debutants — 17-year-old Kim Je Deok and 20-year-old An San — won two sets despite scoring only 35 out of a possible 40 showed the below-par shooting by both the teams.
The think tank here on Friday made the bold decision to split up the husband-wife combination of Deepika and Atanu, who had won a World Cup mixed team gold less than a month back in Paris. The mixed teams are formed on the basis of scores, and on Friday it was Jadhav who was best among the trio, finishing 31st, four places ahead of Deepika’s ‘favourite’ partner’ Atanu in the ranking round.
Countries, however, have one-hour time to exercise the option of switching to their best combination but the Indian think tank chose to be bold.
Deepika was already unhappy at the surprise decision to rejig the combination. “I’m a little sad, he (Atanu) is not with me in the mixed team. It mattered, as I really wanted to play with him but it did not happen,” Deepika said after the first-round win against Chinese Taipei.
A former top-level India coach slammed the decision and blamed the team management in Tokyo for making a “royal blunder”.
“We had 100 per cent chances, if Deepika had partnered Atanu. Deepika was visibly very upset, we did not even see her talking to her partner (Jadhav),” the coach, who did not wish to be named, said.
“Did the coach and manager, who are accompanying the team, discuss this with her before taking the decision? They (Deepika and Atanu) have a chemistry together and a deep understanding which helps at the highest stage,” he added.
In judo, Shushila Devi Likmabam lost to Eva Csernoviczki of Hungary 0-10 in the 48kg category.