The Indian Sepak Takraw team has never failed to make the country proud on the international stage. This time around, a second-placed finish at the International de France de Sepak Takraw Championship has highlighted the team’s rise into the creme de la creme of the sport’s hierarchy. Their loss to traditional heavyweights Malaysia in the final was their first in the entire tournament. In fact, they only went onto lose their first set in the semi-final clash against China.
A knee injury to India’s top scorer Sanjeck Singh prior to the final dented the team’s chances heading into the encounter against world number 2 Malaysia. India is currently ranked 8th in the world and are guaranteed a move up after their performance in Strasbourg.
The tournament also acted as much needed warm up for the upcoming World Super Series finals to be held in Bangkok, Thailand later this month.
Injury to Sanjeck was massive blow: Manager
Manager Yogender Singh Dahiya was happy with his team’s performance, but also stated that they needed to work much harder if they wish to win medal at the World finals. He said, “I am very happy for the players as their hard work paid off today. Our run in till the finals was impeccable and couldn’t ask for more. Unfortunately, our best player Sanjeck Singh got injured and that was a massive blow for us. Regardless, we should be in a position that every player is able to perform at the highest level.”
The Indian team had a flawless group stage, defeating Iran (21-15,21-15), France (21-10,21-8) and Germany (21-10, 21-11). However, their biggest win of the tournament was against top seeds Thailand, who had no reply to Sanjeck’s acrobatic spikes. India would go onto win the tie in convincing manner 21-12, 21-14.
Their semi-final clash against China was a much sterner test. A hard fought victory against a resilient Chinese team would see the Indians book a spot in the final by a score of 2-1 (22-20,14-21, 21-14).
The final against Malaysia was closely fought with both teams producing a high quality of Sepak. Unfortunately, India was unable to capitalise on an early lead in both sets, eventually losing out 21-18, 21-17.
However, team manager and Sepak Takraw Federation of India head was optimistic about the result, he said, “We would like to thank the Sports Ministry for believing in us and we hope to have made the country proud. More financial support will garner more results as we hope to go one better at the world series this month.”
The World Series finals will be held from the September 20 to 23.