It was a surreal day for Indian badminton. Beginning with Kashyap’s astonishing victory over Boonsak Ponsana of Thailand in the second round of the India Open Superseries – a coming-back from the dead moment – Indian players pulled off shock results, and the enthusiastic crowd was kept in good humour through the day. Kashyap’s win was followed by the Indians causing several upsets – Rupesh Kumar and Sanave Thomas even beat the Asian champions, while PV Sindhu took apart the world No.11 Sung Ji Hyun.
Kashyap and compatriot Ajay Jayaram are locked in a close battle for the lone Olympic spot for India. With both matches taking place simultaneously, attention kept shifting between the two. Jayaram was unlucky to draw the world’s best player Lee Chong Wei, and after a hard fight, was quelled. Kashyap’s match too went to the third game, and Ponsana had two match points at 20-18.
It was then that the strangest thing happened. Kashyap played a desperate toss and was caught out of place; Ponsana had all the time in the world to kill the shuttle and wrap up the match. Instead, his attention drifted as he thought the shuttle had gone out, but as he realized it wasn’t, played a comical last-second heave that fell just right for Kashyap to kill.
It was a second chance and life, and Kashyap grabbed it. Ponsana was probably gutted, and lost the next three points
“I was blank, I don’t know what happened,” said Kashyap. “I thought it was over, and then I saw the shuttle coming back and I smashed. I was very lucky.”
Following Kashyap’s great escape, the Indian doubles duo of Rupesh Kumar and Sanave Thomas pulled off one of the finest wins in Indian doubles history, beating the reigning Asian champions Kim Sa Rang and Kim Ki Jung of Korea in the second round. The Indians played at a high level through the match, and such was their instinctive brilliance on the day that Sanave played an outrageous shot behind his back off a smash that gave them a crucial lead towards the end.
Following up on the two big wins, PV Sindhu created yet another upset, nailing world No.11 Sung Ji Hyun. And when Ashwini Ponnappa and Jwala Gutta kept their nerve against Indonesians Nadya Melati and Vita Marissa, the day couldn’t have gotten better.