The Indian men's team bounced back quickly from their humiliating loss against Malaysia to take on Thailand in the quarter-finals of the Badminton Asia Team Championships 2020.
Playing at the biennial tournament in Manila, Philippines, the Indian men's team pulled off a stunning victory against the Thai team, 3-2, to storm into the semi-finals of the event.
Additionally, this victory has assured the Indian side of a medal as they will now face the strong team from Indonesia in the semi-final clash.
However, the proceedings for the day had begun on a disappointing note for the Indians as the two top seeds of former World No. 1 player, Kidambi Srikanth, and current World No. 11, B. Sai Praneeth faced surprise defeats against Kunlavut Vitidsarn and Kanthaphon Wangcharoen respectively. The onus fell on the doubles players and Lakhsya Sen to carry out the victorious act and lead India into the semi-finals of the tournament.
World Championships bronze medalist Sai Praneeth lost to World No. 12 player Wangcharoen after putting up a brave fight, 4-21 21-14 12-21. Srikanth, who won his previous two matches against Kazakhstan and Malaysia, slipped up against three-time World Junior Champion, Kunlavut Vitidsarn, 20-22 14-21.
Lagging behind at 0-2 on the scoreboard, the real heroes of the day for the Indian team were the young and promising players instead. Taking responsibility at the correct time, Dhruv Kapila and MR Arjun ensured India was still in the tie with a 21-18 22-20 victory over Kittinupong Kedren and Tanupat Viriyangkura.
Lakshya Sen, who has been the star find for the Indian shuttlers, once again showed his prowess on the court as he fearlessly took on World No. 45 Suppanyu Avihingsanon. Sen took 46 minutes to outplay his Thai opponent in straight games, 21-19, 21-18. With that win, India and Thailand were tied at 2-2.
The final match of the day was the nail-biting doubles match where the experienced duo of Chirag Shetty and Kidambi Srikanth stepped on court to take matters up with Maneepong Jongjit and Nipitphon Phuangphuapet.
With Satwiksairaj Rankireddy missing from the tournament, Shetty had to pair up with Srikanth. Surprisingly, the pair clicked and really brought trouble to the Thai players over the three-game long deciding rubber. It took a valiant effort of 21-15 16-21 21-15 to clinch the victory.
The Indian team edged past Thailand by a whisker and won 3-2. Into the semi-finals and promised with a medal, the Indian shuttlers will have to face the Indonesian team next.
The Indonesian team is incredibly formidable with World No. 7, Jonathan Christie and World No. 1 pair of Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo in the mix aside from Hendra Setiawan and Mohammad Ahsan. India will have a tough time overcoming this challenge.