Men through, women unlucky at Badminton Asia Team Championships quarter-finals
The Indian contingent at the 2016 Badminton Asia Team Championships in Hyderabad saw mixed fortunes today.
While the men progressed to the semi-finals, beating their Malaysian rivals 3-2, the women were not as lucky, with their Korean rivals winning the first three matches of the tie on the trot, with the result that the final two were not necessary.
The first match of the afternoon at the Gachibowli International Stadium saw India’s highest-ranked male shuttler, K Srikanth, take on Malaysia’s Zulfadli Zulkiffli.
The Indian won the first game 21-14, but his Malaysian rival was not one to back down, fighting back in the second game to take a momentary 10-9 lead.
That proved to not be enough, however, with Srikanth managing to keep up a 29-shot super rally, and eventually winning the second game and with it the match, 21-14, 21-15.
Next up were the ace doubles pair of Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy, who had a strong 2015 season. Malaysia have typically been very strong at the doubles, but Attri and Reddy took a quick 16-7 lead in the first game over Juan Shen Low and Kian Meng Tan.
Like Zulkiffli in the singles before them, Low and Tan came back fighting in the second game. Unlike him, they were able to capitalize on this successfully, and won the game 22-20, forcing a decider.
The final game saw Attri and Reddy come back after a momentary loss of pace, finally winning the men’s doubles 21-10, 20-22, 21-16.
Ajay Jayaram, currently at 25th in the BWF standings, was up next, taking on the lower-ranked Iskandar Zainuddin of Malaysia, and was widely expected to take a quick victory.
He won the first game 21-17, but Zainuddin, with some powerful aggressive service came back to lead his Indian rival 18-7 in the second game, which he won 21-12.
The Indian lost his momentum thereafter, and eventually lost that tie, with Zainuddin taking a 17-21, 21-12, 21-16 victory.
The second men’s doubles match saw Pranaav Jerry Chopra and Akshay Dewalkar take on Yew Sin Ong and Ee Yi Teo. Zainuddin’s victory had been necessary to keep Malaysia in the tie, and their doubles players put up a fierce battle. Dewalkar and Chopra lost the first game 14-21 to Ong and Teo.
The Indian pair won the second game 21-14, but lost the third, which meant that HS Prannoy was tasked with keeping India in the running for the semi-finals. He took on Teck Zhi Soo and made quick work of him in the first game of the tie, winning 21-12.
Like all his teammates before him, however, Teck fought back in the second game and even took a 15-13 lead at one point. In the end, Jayaram equalised at 20-20, before taking a 22-20 win to cap off the men’s tie for India.
Result: India beat Malaysia 3-2
Star Indian shuttler PV Sindhu played the first women’s match of the day against Ji Hyun Sung of Korea. The lower-ranked Korean took a quick lead over her Indian competitor, with Sindhu struggling to take the lead back.
That would only be momentary, with Sung winning the first game 21-16. Sindhu lost the first tie, with Indian badminton icons Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa due to take the court next.
The experienced Indian pair today committed an uncharacteristically high number of errors, a factor instrumental in their eventual in their eventual loss. They managed to win the first set 22-20, but it was the Korean pair of Jung and Shin win the women's doubles tie 21-15, 20-22, 21-13.
That loss meant Korea led India 2-0 in the tie, and it was necessary for the Indians to win the next match, played by PC Thulasi, to stay in the tie.
Thulasi was up against the 14th-ranked Yeon Ju Bae, and as expected, the Korean took a march early on in the first game, which she won 21-14. She made short work of Thulasi in the second game, taking a 10-5 lead before winning the game 21-15.
With that win, Korea led India 3-0, which meant that the remaining two matches in that tie did not need to be played.
Result: Korea beat India 3-0