Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy impressed once again but the Indian men’s badminton team suffered a humbling 1-3 defeat to formidable hosts Denmark in the quarterfinals to bow out of the Thomas Cup in Aarhus on Friday.

Only the pair of Satwik-Chirag could post a win for the team which made it to the Thomas Cup quarterfinals for the first time since 2010. It was otherwise a hugely disappointing outing for the Indian men. Even if Denmark were the favourites, the scorelines and nature of some the defeats did not paint a good picture for some of the experienced names in the Indian set up.

First up, a struggling Kidambi Srikanth was outplayed by his world number 2 opponent and Tokyo Olympics gold medallist Viktor Axelsen, who won the first match 21-12, 21-13 in 38 minutes.

Srikanth trailed all through the first game and the closest he could go near Axelsen was when the scoreline was 4-3 in the Dane’s favour. From there on, the Danish star reeled off seven successive points to be at 11-3 before winning the first game in quick time.

In the second game also, Axelsen did not allow Srikanth to take the lead. The duo were on level terms at 1-1 and then 2-2 but from there on, the Dane zoomed to 5-2 and then to 12-2 by winning seven successive points to leave Srikanth far behind before wrapping up the second game and the match.

It was a match that signalled how different the careers have panned out for two former world No 1 shuttlers. While Axelsen has generally gone from strength to strength, culminating in his Tokyo gold, the wheels have come off for Srikanth who spent a week at the top of the world rankings in April 2018 on the back of a sensational 2017 season.

The world number 10 men’s doubles pair of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, however, brought India back into the tie with a three-game win over the duo of Kim Astrup and Anders Skaarup Rasmussen. The Danes had defeated the Indians twice in their last two meetings, including a thriller in All England Open this year.

The Indian duo won 21-15, 17-21, 21-18 in the match that lasted one hour and 12 minutes and was filled with dramatic swings of momentum both way. In the end, the Indians kept their nerve while the Danish pair made a series of service errors that proved costly.

Denmark, however, regained the lead after world No 3 Anders Antonsen easily beat B Sai Praneeth 21-8 21-15 in the second singles in 45 minutes. While both players are 2019 World Championships medallists, Praneeth was never in the game. He led 12-9 at one point in the second game but went on to lose 11 straight points.

The pair of M R Arjun and Dhruv Kapila then lost 16-21 9-21 to a scratch pair Mathias Christiansen and Frederik Sogaard in the second doubles to seal the tie in favour of Denmark.

In the group stage, India had defeated the Netherlands and Tahiti by identical margins of 5-0 before losing to formidable China 1-4. India had finished second behind China in the group to qualify for the Thomas Cup quarterfinals for the first time since 2010.

Indian women’s team, significantly short on senior experience, impressed in patches but had bowed of the Uber Cup after losing 0-3 to Japan.

With PTI inputs