Lakshya Sen and Subhankar Dey defeated higher-ranked players but the wins came in a losing cause overall as Indian men’s badminton team went down fighting 2-3 to two-time defending champions Indonesia in the semi-final at the Asia Team Championships in Manila on Saturday.

The men’s team will finish as bronze medallists after defeat in the final four.

Sen registered a stunning win over Asian Games champion Jonatan Christie while Dey got the better of word No 20 Shesar Hiren Rhustavito in their respective singles matches.

World No 31 Sen dished out a clinical performance to notch up a sensational 21-18, 22-20 win over world No 7 Christie in the second singles to keep India in the hunt. This was after B Sai Praneeth retired following mid-match while trailing 6-21 thrashing against Anthony Ginting in the opening game of the first singles.

Doubles pair of MR Arjun and Dhruv Kapila then played their heart out before going down narrowly 10-21 21-14 21-23 to reigning world champions Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan as Indonesia made it 2-1.

2018 SaarLorLux Open champion Dey then shocked Rhustavuito 21-17, 21-15 in the third singles as India once again drew level 2-2.

In the deciding second doubles, Chirag Shetty paired up with Lakshya Sen but they were no match for the world No 1 combination of Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo, who took just 24 minutes to register a 21-6, 21-13 win and seal their place in the finals.

Indian men’s team thus won their second bronze medal, having won the first one at the 2016 Hyderabad edition.

Earlier, the 18-year-old Sen, who had a stellar run in 2019 with five titles, showed his prowess during his straight-game win over Christie, who is one of the top medal contenders at the Olympic Games.

In his first meeting with the Indonesia star, Sen matched his senior pro in all departments of the game. The Indian erased a 2-4 deficit and enjoyed a three-point lead at the break when his opponent hit long.

Sen kept moving ahead and gained a game point when he pushed the shuttle to the forehand corner. Christie saved two game points before sending one out again as Sen moved ahead.

In the second game,Christie eked out a 3-1 lead early on but Sen came back strongly to take a 7-5 advantage before managing to go ahead 11-9 at the interval. The Indian jumped to a healthy 19-15 lead at one stage but Jonatan clawed his way back with four straight points.

The Indian grabbed a match point when his opponent hit long again and even though the Indonesian saved one match point, he stumbled upon two more unforced errors to hand over the match to Sen for one of his best wins in a rapidly rising career.

India, in the absence of Srikanth Kidambi and HS Prannoy, were ultimately left to rue the singles defeat for Sai Praneeth.

(With PTI inputs)