Sudirman Cup 2019: India gets off to a bad start against Malaysia
The Indian contingent stepped into the premises of the Guangxi Sports Center Gymnasium with a lot of high hopes pinned on their shoulders. Touted as the favorites heading into the tournament, the Indian shuttlers began their campaign against Malaysia.
Boasting of big-shot names like PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal, Sameer Verma and Kidambi Srikanth, who were expected to star in what promised to be a one-sided affair for the Indian brigade, given the absence of Malaysian ace shuttler Lee Chong Wei. But, things turned out to be quite the opposite once the matches began. India was handed a defeat in the tie against Malaysia, who won 3 out of the 5 scheduled matches.
It has been quite the bittersweet day for the Indian shuttlers as Malaysia ensured that no point was won without a stiff fight. All the clashes proved to be nail-biting, as the tie remained undecided till the very last women's doubles clash. The first match of the day saw Sameer Verma lock horns with Lee Z. J of Malaysia in the Men's Singles round. Verma could not find his winning factor and was no match for the 21-year-old Lee Z. J who, dominated him for a definitive 13-21, 15-21 win.
On the Mixed Doubles front, we had the duo of Ashwini Ponnappa and Satwik Sairaj Rankireddy going up against the Malaysian duo of S.H Goh and S.J Lai. The Indians were made to go the distance to clinch the win in a match that spanned over three incredibly tight games. Ponnappa and Rankireddy came back from a game down to notch the win after a hard fought match in 16-21, 21-17, 24-22. By then, both Malaysia and India had secured a win each.
In the Women's Singles category, we had BWF World Tour Finals winner PV Sindhu pitched against the 19-year-old Goh Jin Wei. Sindhu, was hardly troubled by the young Malaysian and delivered a power packed performance. Sindhu ensured India stayed afloat, as she won her match with usual panache 21-12, 21-8.
With India briefly leading the tie at 2-1, there seemed to be some hope for the contingent. However, this success was short-lived as India lost the consecutive doubles clashes. In the Men's Doubles segment, Manu Attri and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy clashed against A. Chia and Y. Ee Teo.
The Indian duo put up a very good fight, making the Malaysian pair really go the stretch. Each of the points in this match were nail-biting, as smashes were hurled and high-octane rallies were played, eventually resulting in a loss for the Indian duo. The final points in each game was tense but the Malaysians won the tight match 20-22, 19-21.
In the final clash of the day, the pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy went up against the Malaysian duo of M.K Chow and M.Y. Lee. The women's pair from India were hardly a match for the Malaysians, as they seemed out of form today. With plenty of room left for error, Ponnappa and Sikki Reddy failed to make a comeback even after a well fought second set, and let Malaysians get ahead and win the group tie. The Indian pair lost 11-21, 19-21.
The Malaysian team, despite having many young and inexperienced players, played very professionally to hand the Indian team the 3-2 loss. It was a bad day at the office for the Indian shuttlers, as only Sindu and the mixed doubles pair of Ponnappa and Rankireddy could register wins today.
After losing the tie today, India would need to win against China in their clash tomorrow, in order to survive in the tournament. China, undoubtedly, is a formidable team and it would require a monumental effort from the Indians tomorrow to keep their chances of winning the Sudirman Cup alive.