Asiad badminton: Injury-stricken India submit to China, settle with silver

Hangzhou, (UNI) Depleted Indian men’s team lost to China and settled for silver in the finals of the 2023 Asian Games badminton here on Sunday.

Country’s premier shuttler HS Prannoy and MR Arjun missed the gold medal match due to injury as the Indian men’s team lost the tie 2-3 to hosts despite starting the tie on a very strong note.

The first silver was bagged by India at 2018 Jakarta Games after PV Sindhu’s appearance in the women’s singles final. India have now won 11 medals – two silver and nine bronze – in the sport at the continental meet.

Walking into the court, India suffered a big jolt after Prannoy had to sit on the sidelines due to back injury. Despite the odds, Lakshya Sen and Chirag Shettu-Satwiksairaj Rankireddy triumped in their respective matches, and gave a rollicking start to India.

However, Kidambi Srikanth, Dhruv Kapila-K Sai Pratheek and Mithun Manjunath, let the Indian fans down by going down to the Chinese shuttlers in the next three encounters.

Just coming into this tie, the Indian men’s team had pulled off a 3-2 thriller over Republic of Korea in the semifinals after sweeping Nepal 3-0 in the quarters.

Lakshya Sen gave India a dream start, beating Shi Yuqi 22-20, 14-21, 21-18 in the first match.

Commonwealth Games champion Lakshya Sen dug deep to win a tight first game but lost the second. The decider seemed to be heading the Chinese shuttler’s way with Lakshya trailing 13-8 but he rallied to pick up the important win.

In the second match, India’s doubles pair of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy beat Weikeng Liang and Chang Wang 21-15, 21-18 to hand India a 2-0 lead. The Chinese pair is ranked second in the world and won a bronze medal at the world championships earlier this year.

In the absence of HS Prannoy, the onus was on former world No. 1 Kidambi Srikanth in the third tie against the reigning All England champion Li Shifeng. However, Kidambi Srikanth lost 24-22, 21-9.

It was an uphill task for India from that point on with the makeshift pair of Dhruv Kapila and K Sai Pratheek facing off against the world No. 8 men’s doubles team of Yuchen Liu and Xuanyi Ou while Mithun Manjunath, the world No. 53 in men’s singles, took on China’s – a player ranked 33 places above him.

Dhruv Kapila was partnering Sai Pratheek in the absence of his regular partner MR Arjun, who was also unfit for the tie. The India doubles pair lost 21-6, 21-15 as the match headed into a decider, reported.

In the fifth and final match, India’s Mithun Manjunath lost 21-12, 21-4 to Weng Hongyang as India settled for silver – the country’s first medal in the men’s team badminton event at the Asian Games since 1976.

Earlier in the day, the Republic of Korea defeated China 3-0 to win the gold medal in the women’s team event.

The Indian women’s team ended its Hangzhou 2023 campaign in the quarter-finals after losing to Thailand earlier in the week.

Badminton events at the Asian Games 2023 will continue with the singles, doubles and mixed doubles events, starting from October 2.

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