Srikanth Kidambi and HS Prannoy were the only ones to register victories as India’s men’s and women’s teams lost their group ties against Chinese Taipei and Korea respectively at the Thomas and Uber Cup in Bangkok on Wednesday.
Sindhu-led India will now take on hosts Thailand, led by Ratchanok Intanon, in the quarterfinals. The tie will begin at 12.30 pm IST on Thursday.
For Lakshya Sen, Srikanth Kidambi and Co, a tough test awaits if they are end a long wait for a medal in this event. They were drawn to face Lee Zii Jia’s Malaysia, who topped their group after defeating Kento Momota’s Japan. India vs Malaysia will be at 5.30 pm IST on Thursday.
First up in the day was the Group D Uber Cup tie between India and Korea, with a highly-anticipated clash between PV Sindhu and An Seyoung. Sindhu started the match brightly, making all the right moves and building up a good lead but the Korean superstar in-the-making went from 8-13 to 21-15, finishing game one on a run of eight straight points.
Sindhu even had a lead in game two early on but An was unstoppable once she got into the lead again to give Korea a 1-0 lead with a 21-15, 21-14 victory in 42 minutes.
India’s Simran Singhi and Shruti Mishra then took the court for a doubles match against the World No 2 pair of Lee Sohee and Shin Seungchan. The match turned out to be a one-sided affair with the Koreans taking it in straight games 21-13, 21-12.
Aakarshi Kashyap was up next in a must-win match against world No 19 Kim Gaeun and she too was blown away in straight games 21-10, 21-10. This victory assured Korea the top spot in the Group.
Tanisha Crasto and Treesa Jolly too had their moments in the second doubles match but lost in straight games 14-21, 11-21 against Kim Hye Jeong and Kong Heeyong.
In the last match, Ashmita Chaliha produced arguably the best performance of the tie by an Indian but wasn’t enough to prevent a clean sweep. She lost 18-21, 17-21 to Sim Yujin as Korea completed a clean sweep.
In the Group C Thomas Cup tie between India and Chinese Taipei on Wednesday, Lakshya Sen went down fighting in a superb battle against Chou Tien Chen. The first game was closely-fought and Sen took the second to force a decider. The match was competitive till the end but Chen held his nerves at the end to win 21-19, 13-21, 21-17.
Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty then took on Olympic champions Lee Yang and Wang Chi-Lin in a doubles encounter and went down in straight games. The Indian pair put up a better performance in the second game but it wasn’t enough and they lost 11-21, 19-21.
India then finally got their first win of the day after seven straight defeats across the Thomas and Uber Cup. Srikanth Kidambi’s match against Wang Tzu Wei was a must-win and the former world No 1 stepped up nicely to wrap the match up in straight games, but it certainly wasn’t easy.
Srikanth showed grit in the first game before pulling ahead in the second to secure a 21-19, 21-16 victory in 53 minutes.
Arjun MR and Dhruv Kapila then fought valiantly and took their doubles match against Lu Ching Yao and Yang Po Han to the end but fell short eventually. The Indians lost the opener but raised their level in the second game to force a decider. It was a close battle even in the third game but the Koreans found another gear after the interval to pull ahead and complete a 21-17, 19-21, 21-19 win in an hour and 17 minutes.
With that, India lost the tie 1-3 before the last match featuring HS Prannoy in singles action.
Prannoy’s match went to the decider but he managed to raise his level at the right time to help India end the tie with a win and on a high. The 29-year-old clinched the first game before Lu Chia Hung fought back to take the second and force a decider. But Prannoy started the third game strongly and sustained his level to close out a 21-18, 17-21, 21-18 victory.
India’s opponents for the Thomas Cup quarterfinals will be decided later on Wednesday.
Screenshots courtesy Tournament Software