Injured HS Prannoy’s absence hurt India as they went down fighting 2-3 against badminton powerhouse China to sign off with their first-ever silver medal in the men’s team championships at the Asian Games here on Sunday.
After world No. 7 Prannoy was ruled out due to a back injury, Lakshya Sen produced a gutsy show in the first singles and doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty then bossed over their opponents to put India 2-0 ahead.
So, it was once again left to Kidambi Srikanth to carry the team on his shoulders. The former world No. 1, who had produced a gritty show against South Korea in the semi-finals, couldn’t go the distance this time despite a healthy lead and multiple game points as China fought back to make it 1-2.
The defending champions then won the remaining two matches to maintain their hegemony in the Asian Games. With Prannoy missing the summit clash, Sen was handed the responsibility of leading the Indian charge. Sen recovered from a mid-game slump to erase a five-point deficit in the decider and put India ahead with a 22-20, 14-21, 21-18 win over world No. 6 Shi Yuqi in an 83-minute opening slugfest.
World No. 3 men’s doubles pair of Satwik and Chirag then went on a smashing spree to outclass world No. 2. Liang Wei Keng and Wang Chang 21-15, 21-18 in 55 minutes to extend the lead to 2-0.
Srikanth, however, squandered an 18-14 lead and multiple game points in the first game to go down 22-24, 9-21 against All England champion Li Shifeng in the third singles. Scratch pair of Dhruv Kapila and Sai Pratheek Krishna Prasad then lost 6-21, 15-21 to world No. 8 Liu Yu Chen and Ou Xuan Yi, while Prannoy’s replacement Mithun Manjunath, ranked 53, went down 12-21, 4-21 against world No. 20 Weng Hong Yang in the third singles as India finished second best.
Despite the loss, it is a creditable performance from the Indian team as it sealed India’s second silver medal in badminton at the continental championships with two-time Olympic medallist PV Sindhu winning the first in women’s singles in the 2018 edition.
The last time the Indian men won a badminton medal in the team championships was at the 1986 edition in Seoul where they had bagged a bronze.
A day after the India men’s squash team pipped Pakistan to clinch the gold medal, the mixed doubles teams won their respective pool matches while Mahesh Mangaonkar won his round of 32 match.
In Pool A, the pair of Dipika Pallikal and Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu defeated the South Korean duo of Jaejin Yoo and Hwayeong Eum 2-0, recording an 11-2, 11-5 win in 22 minutes.
Later in the day, Dipika and Sandhu needed a mere 11 minutes to thwart the challenge from the Pakistani pair of Mehwish Ali and Noor Zaman, blanking them 11-4, 11-1 to romp home to a 2-0 win.
The pair of Anahat Singh and Abhay Singh crushed the pair of David William Pelino and Yvonne Alyssa Dalida from the Philippines 2-0 in their first assignment of the day and thrashed Pakistan’s Sadia Gul and Farhan Zaman 11-3, 11-2 to record a comfortable 2-0 win in only 16 minutes in the next match.
In men’s singles, Mangaonkar remained on top of the game to record a 3-0 win over Philippines’ Jonathan Reyes 11-8, 11-4, 11-2 in his round of 32 contest.
Seasoned Jyothi Surekha Vennam led the charge as India’s compound archers lived up to their reputation, topping the qualification and also grabbing No. 1 seeding in women’s and mixed pair team events.
World champion Ojas Deotale and 2014 Asian Games silver medalist Abhishek Verma secured third-fourth place finish as India took the second seedings in men’s team compound qualifiers.
Chasing their first Asian Games medal in recurve section in 13 years, India also had an inspiring show in the Olympic-discipline event.
Two-time Olympian Atanu Das finished fourth, while promising youngster Dhiraj Bommadevara was the next best Indian at sixth spot to make the cut in the men’s recurve section. As a result, the Indian men’s recurve team qualified as third seeds with 2022 points.
Recurve heavyweights South Korea topped the qualifiers with 2048 points.