India go down to Malaysia at Badminton Asia Team Champs

Srikanth's victory in vain as both the men’s doubles pairs lost their respective matches in straight games.

By Subhayan Dutta

India lost their Group B tie against Malaysia 1-4 at the Badminton Asia Team Championships 2020 on Thursday as Kidambi Srikanth remained the only winner in their five-match tie.

With India trailing 0-2 after the first two matches, Kidambi Srikanth kept their hopes alive with a win in the third match but it wasn’t enough in the end at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in Manila, Philippines.

Sai Praneeth loses opener to hand India difficult start

India’s top-ranked men’s shuttler B Sai Praneeth seemed the safest bet to start the tie with, but the 27-year-old ended up losing in straight games to Malaysia’s Lee Zii Jia.

The Indian badminton player had started the match on a competitive note, trailing by just one point at the break but the Malaysian badminton ace kept the pressure intact till 17-17 before taking four of the next five points and winning the first game 21-18.

The second game, unlike the first one, saw B Sai Praneeth mellowing down as he remained second best throughout it. After leading 11-6 at the break, Jia won the second game 21-15 and the match 2-0 as India trailed 0-1 in the tie.

India sent men’s doubles badminton pair of Chirag Shetty and M.R. Arjun for the second match of the tie, but they were no competition for Malaysia’s Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik.

The Indian badminton pair was beaten 18-21, 15-21 in straight games with the match lasting just 31 minutes as India trailed 0-2 after the first two matches.

Kidambi Srikanth was taken right to the wire by Subhankar Dey in Barcelona Spain Masters 2020

Kidambi Srikanth’s win doesn’t inspire a comeback

Kidambi Srikanth took centre-stage in the third game, where he was up against Cheam June Wei, with the task of reducing the early deficit.

The former top-ranked Indian badminton player had never faced the Malaysian world no. 72 before and was stunned in the first game which the Malaysian won 21-14.

However, the world no. 15 pulled up his socks just in time and went on to win the remaining two games 21-16, 21-19 to clinch India’s first win of the tie and thereby reducing the deficit to 1-2.

India needed to win the remaining two matches to keep the five-match tie alive but their lack of specialist men’s doubles team didn’t help the cause.

Lakshya Sen and Dhruv Kapila were up next against Ong Yew Sin and Teo Ee Yi for the fourth match of the tie, which was a men’s doubles. They went down 14-21, 14-21 in straight games as Malaysia grabbed an unassailable 3-1 lead.

HS Prannoy took on Leong Jun Hao in the fifth and final match of the tie and with nothing to fight for, the Indian badminton veteran wasn’t at his best either. He went down 10-21, 15-21 in straight games as India lost the tie 1-4.

What next for India at the Badminton Asia Team Championships 2020

India advanced into the knockout stages of the Badminton Asia Team Championships 2020 as the second team from Group B after Malaysia. They will be facing Thailand next in their first knockout tie.