Jakarta: P Kashyap authored one of the finest victories in Indian badminton history with a shock result over world No.3 Chen Long to enter the quarterfinals of the Indonesia Open Superseries Premier. The 21- 17 21-14 victory was brilliantly executed, with the Indian out-thinking the Chinese at every step, and brought back memories of his coach Gopichand’s defeat of Chen Hong in the final of the All England in 2001.
Kashyap’s victory ensured the presence of at least two Indians in the quarterfinal rounds, after Saina Nehwal sealed her place earlier.
Going into the match, the record was against Kashyap. Chen Long has, over the last two years, emerged as China’s successor to the incomparable Lin Dan. Kashyap’s 13-11 win-loss record this year appeared almost puny compared to Chen’s 23-6, and it was a classic David vs Goliath battle. Kashyap summoned up the meager resources at his disposal and made it work; Goliath duly came tumbling down.
The classic instruction for any Indian playing a Chinese is to make their superior abilities of speed and power work against them: Padukone did it with success, and so did Gopichand. Basically, the tactic would be to avoid playing at high pace; to use flicks and drops and avoid hitting hard; to take the net, and to keep the opponent in a constant state of indecision.
Kashyap carried out this strategy impeccably. Chen Long is one of the fastest movers and hardest hitters in the world, but Kashyap played soft and denied him the opportunity to hit the full-blooded shot. To his credit, he did surprise Chen Long with the odd, precise smash, and the Chinese was so perplexed errors began to rain from his racket.
Kashyap went 19-14 ahead, but Chen Long fought back to 17-19. It was touch-and-go, but the Indian played a steady rally and finally caught him at the net. Chen smashed wide on game point.
The match followed the same pattern in the second game. From 14-10 on, the Indian piled point upon point as Chen seemed to crack under pressure, giving him eight straight points. He made a belated fightback to take the next three points, and then Kashyap played one of the best points of his life – retrieving impossible shots and winning a long rally to make it 19-13. Chen finally smashed wide on match point, and Kashyap had his career’s greatest moment – and oddly, there were no wild celebrations. Just a look heavenwards.
“He played consistent and was aggressive when he needed to be. I was particularly impressed with his net play,” coach Pullela Gopichand, told IANS. “We keep changing the strategy from time to time. He kept the shuttle in play just for the right time and it paid off against a top player.”