Sameer Verma wastes 4 match points as Indian men go down 1-4 against China in Thomas Cup

Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty beat He Ji Ting and Zhou Hao Dong on Thursday
Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty beat He Ji Ting and Zhou Hao Dong on Thursday
Suhas Nayse

Sameer Verma squandered away four match points as India went down fighting 1-4 against China in the BWF Thomas Cup Finals in Aarhus, Denmark on Thursday.

Verma had a chance to put India 2-1 ahead had he converted at least one of his four match points in the third and final game against Lu Guang Zu.

World No. 28 Verma failed to keep his nerves intact at the crucial moment and lost a hard-fought battle 21-14, 9-21, 22-24. The second men’s singles of the tie lasted an hour and 23 minutes.

It turned out to be the decisive moment of the tie as the multi-time champions regained the crucial lead and went on to increase it to 4-1 to top Group C.

Before the match, Verma had a 2-1 head-to-head record against Lu, ranked 27 in the world. The Indian shuttler got off to a flying start by racing to a 21-14 victory in the first game.

Sameer Verma and Lu Guang Zu each won a game to set up an exciting decider

Lu bounced back strongly to claim the second game without any difficulty. Both Verma and Lu went neck-and-neck in the decider. In a sea-saw battle, Verma simply could not deliver the knock-out punch after getting four opportunities.

The star doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty dismissed Ji Ting and Zhou Hao Dong 21-14, 21-14 in a 41-minute contest to make the score 1-1.

Satwiksairaj and Chirag had a much-needed victory over the lower-ranked Chinese duo. The world No. 10 pair brought the Indians back into the match after Kidambi Srikanth lost his opening men’s singles.

Struggling Srikanth began the day for India with a 12-21, 16-21 defeat to Shi Yu Qi. Shi Yu Qi, world No. 10, capitalized on the poor form of Srikanth to complete the win in 36 minutes. World No. 14 Srikanth had a 4-1 head-to-head record against the Chinese but could not extend his good run against in-form Shi Yu Qi.

The other doubles pair of MR Arjun and Dhruv Kapila went down fighting 24-26, 19-21 to Liu Cheng and Wang Yi Lyu in 52 minutes. Arjun and Dhruv, ranked 46 in the world, put up splendid efforts but it was not enough against the new Chinese duo.

In the last match of the day, Kiran George lost to Li Shi Feng 15-21, 17-21 in 43 minutes.

After recording identical 5-0 victories against the Netherlands and Tahiti, it was the first defeat for the Indian men’s team in the tournament.

With two early wins, India qualified for the Thomas Cup quarter-finals for the first time since 2010.

Thomas Cup Results (Group C):

India lost to China 1-4

Men’s singles 1

Kidambi Srikanth lost to Shi Yu Qi 12-21, 16-21 (36 minutes)

Men’s doubles 1

Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty bt He Ji Ting-Zhou Hao Dong 21-14, 21-14 (41 minutes)

Men’s singles 2

Sameer Verma lost to Lu Guang Zu 21-14, 9-21, 22-24 (83 minutes)

Men’s doubles 2

MR Arjun-Dhruv Kapila lost to Liu Cheng-Wang Yi Lyu 24-26, 19-21 (52 minutes)

Men’s singles 3

Kiran George lost to Li Shi Feng 15-21, 17-21 (43 minutes).

Edited by Aditya Singh


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