New Delhi,2 October: Injuries dented Indian chance as they squandered a 2-0 lead and lost the Men's team Badminton final to China 2-3 to be content with a silver in the Asian Games at Hangzhou China on Sunday.
In the final against the defending champions, the Indian team had the odds stacked against it with HS Prannoy, their top-ranked singles player in the world badminton rankings, sidelined from the tie with a back injury.
However, Lakshya Sen and Chirag Shetty-Satwiksairaj Rankireddy stepped up to the occasion with victories against tough opponents to give India hope. However, Kidambi Srikanth, Dhruv Kapila-K Sai Pratheek and Mithun Manjunath, who came in for the tie in place of HS Prannoy, though, failed to capitalise on the lead as India lost 2-3.
On the way to the final, India registered a thrilling 3-2 win over Korea in the semi-finals after blanking Nepal 3-0 in the quarters.
Lakshya Sen gave India a dream start, beating Shi Yuqi 22-20, 14-21, 21-18 in the first match. The Commonwealth Games champion dug deep to win a tight first game but lost the second. The decider seemed to be heading the Chinese ’s way with the Indians trailing 13-8 but he rallied to pick up the important win.
In the second match, the doubles pair of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy beat Weikeng Liang and Chang Wang 21-15, 21-18 to hand India a 2-0 lead. The Chinese pair is ranked second in the world and won a bronze medal at the world championships earlier this year.
In the absence of HS Prannoy, the onus was on former world No. 1 Kidambi Srikanth in the third tie against the reigning All-England champion Li Shifeng. However, Kidambi Srikanth lost 24-22, 21-9.
It was an uphill task for India from that point on with the makeshift pair of Dhruv Kapila and K Sai Pratheek facing off against the world No. 8 men’s doubles team of Yuchen Liu and Xuanyi Ou while Mithun Manjunath, the world No. 53 in men’s singles, took on China’s - a player ranked 33 places above him.
Dhruv Kapila was partnering Sai Pratheek in the absence of his regular partner MR Arjun, who was also unfit for the tie. The India doubles pair lost 21-6, 21-15 as the match headed into a decider.
In the fifth and final match, Mithun Manjunath lost 21-12, 21-4 to Weng Hongyang as India settled for silver - the country’s first medal in the men’s team badminton event at the Asian Games since 1976.
This was India’s second-ever silver medal in Asian Games badminton after PV Sindhu’s women’s singles final appearance at Jakarta 2018. India has now won 11 medals - two silver and nine bronze - in the sport at the continental meet.
Earlier in the day, Korea defeated China 3-0 to win the gold medal in the women’s team event. The Indian women’s team ended its Hangzhou campaign in the quarter-finals after losing to Thailand earlier in the week.