In a match billed as youth versus experience, Kidambi Srikanth stopped Lakshya Sen's giant-killing run to enter his maiden BWF World Championship final in Huelva, Spain.
12th seed Srikanth squeezed past unseeded Lakshya 17-21, 21-14, 21-17 in the men’s singles encounter. The nail-biting match lasted for an hour and 9 minutes and kept the spectators on the edge of their seats for more than an hour.
Srikanth bounces back strongly after shaky start in BWF World Championship 2021 semi-final
In the first game, world No. 19 Lakshya Sen showed tremendous speed and power to race to a comfortable lead initially.
20-year-old Lakshya was leading 11-8 at the break and looked in complete command. Srikanth seemed to be on the backfoot straightaway but recovered well to level the scores midway through the game.
Although Srikanth reduced the deficit, Lakshya did not slow down his speed and aggression to capture the first game 21-17.
Srikanth changed his gears in the second game
There was not much Srikanth could do in the first game against a rampaging Lakshya. However, 28-year-old Srikanth changed his gears in the second game with his trademark jump smashes and sharp dribbles.
Former world No. 1 Srikanth used his experience to good effect with clever placements and sharp net play. The Guntur shuttler grabbed the second game 21-14 to force the decider.
High quality display under pressure by Srikanth and Lakshya at BWF World Championship 2021
There was tension all over in the third and deciding game. Despite being under tremendous pressure, both Srikanth and Lakshya probably played their best in the third game.
Both were tired and ran out of steam but still did not give up. Srikanth and Lakshya gave their all and fought like warriors for each point. There were several acrobatics, diving defense and breathtaking shots, making it one of the best matches in Indian badminton history.
Despite great resistance from Srikanth, Lakshya managed to take a 11-8 lead in the deciding game just like in the first game.
However, a mandatory change of ends changed the fortunes for world No. 14 Srikanth. The experienced campaigner first made it 10-11 but Lakshya again raced to 13-10 with his never-say-die attitude.
Uttarakhand youngster Lakshya seemed tired after a flurry of long rallies. Srikanth took advantage of that and leveled the scores 15-15 with a series of points.
Srikanth took the lead (16-15) after winning a long and pulsating 39-shot rally for the first time in the deciding game.
With so much at stake, it was a moment of truth for both Indian stars. It was like who has got the character, who has got the belief and who has that extra edge which decides the winner in a close battle.
Srikanth showed the champion's character and belief to clinch the issue in his favor with a 21-17 verdict in the final game. Srikanth will take on Singapore’s young sensation Loh Kean Yew in the BWF World Championship 2021 final today.