India thrashed lowly Nepal 3-0 in the quarterfinals to secure a historic medal after 37 years in the men’s team badminton event at the Asian Games in Hangzhou on Friday. Taking the court first, Lakshya Sen defeated Prince Dahal 21-5 21-8 before Kidambi Srikanth beat Sunil Joshi 21-4 21-13 in the second match. In the third match, Mithun Manjunath edged past Bishnu Katuwal 21-2 21-17 to clinch the tie. The Indian men, who are assured of at least a bronze, will now face the winner of the match between Indonesia and Korea in semifinal for a spot in the gold medal clash.
However, it was disappointment for the Indian women’s team.
The women’s team, led by PV Sindhu, failed to put up a fight against Thailand, going down 0-3 in the quarterfinals to crash out of the Asian Games.
It was always going to be a tall task for India to tame the Thai, who boast the likes of former world champion Ratchanok Intanon, world no. 12 Pornpawee Chochuwong and world no. 17 Supanida Katethong in their ranks.
However, India couldn’t produce a fight with two-time Olympic medallist Sindhu being the only one to take a game off during her 21-14 15-21 14-21 loss against Chochuwong in the opening women’s singles match.
After the opening reversal, the onus fell on World number 17 Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand to bring India back in contention but the duo lost steam, losing 19-21 5-21 to Jongkolphan Kittitharakul and Rawinda Prajongjai, ranked 10th, in women’s doubles.
The left-handed Ashmita Chaliha was then humbled by Busanan Ongbamrungphan 9-21, 16-21 in the third match to shut the door on India’s medal hopes.
The women’s team had won a bronze medal in the 2014 edition in Incheon.
Later in the day, the men’s team, led by HS Prannoy, will look to seal India’s first badminton medal in the 19th edition when they face Nepal in the quarterfinals.
Starting the proceedings, Sindhu made a strong start as she led 4-1 before managing a four-point lead at the halfway mark in the opening game.
The former world champion kept the pressure on the Thai to move ahead to 17-10 before grabbing seven game points and converting it without much ado.
Chochuwong, however, made a roaring comeback in the second game. The Thai eked out a narrow 7-6 after an initial battle and then started dominating the rallies after the interval, gaining a 12-9 and then 18-14 lead to eventually bounce back.
In the decider, Sindhu had an early 4-3 lead but Chochuwong soon turned the tables, leading 8-6. The Thai shuttler extended her advantage to 13-8, before moving to 18-11, a gap which proved too much in the end for the Indian.