The Indian duo of Saurabh Chaudhary and Manu Bhaker clinched silver medal after a thrilling final against Russia in the 10m air pistol mixed team event at the ISSF Shooting World Cup in Osijek, Croatia on Saturday.

Russia’s Vitalina Batsarashkina and Artem Chernousov took leads of 6-2 and then 12-6 in the gold medal match (two points each for a series of shots) but the Indians came storming back on both occasions to level up the scores at 6-6 and 12-12. The Russians, however, edged out in the final two series and clinched the gold medal with a score of 16-12.

The Indian pair boast of an impressive record in the event and are considered medal favourites at Tokyo 2020. They have already won five gold medals in this event at the World Cup events in the last couple of years and this is their sixth final appearance that has resulted in their first silver.

Rio Olympic silver medallist Batsarashkina and World Championship gold medallist in the discipline Chernousov, had earlier topped the second qualification round, shooting a combined 390 out of 400, to qualify for the gold medal match-up against the Indian duo,

India has now won three medals at the global event which is the shooting team’s final competitive outing before the Tokyo Olympics.

Chaudhary picked a bronze medal in the men’s 10m air pistol event on the opening day and the 10m air pistol women’s team comprising, Bhaker, Yashaswini Singh Deswal and Rahi Sarnobat, claimed a bronze on day two.

Abhishek Verma and Yashaswini Singh Deswal were in contention for a bronze medal in the event but lost against Iran after a one-sided match that finished 17-7.

Earlier, India was assured of at least a silver medal on day three of the competition as the duo of Chaudhary and Bhaker shot the second-best score (387) in the final qualification round of the 10m air pistol mixed team event to book a place in the gold medal clash.

The second Indian team in the fray, comprising Verma and Deswal, qualified after finishing third with a total of 386 in the final qualifying round, earning a spot in the bronze medal match against Golnoush Sebghatollahi and Javad Foroughi of Iran. The Iranians however were too good in the final where Deswal struggled to find her rhythm.

It was, however, a bad day in the office for the Indian rifle shooters competing in the 10m air mixed event. Both teams failed to reach the final. While the pairing of Elavenil Valarivan and Divyansh Singh Panwar managed to reach the second qualification round, finishing sixth with a total of 416.1, reported PTI.

The duo of Anjum Moudgil and Deepak Kumar could not clear the first qualifying round. The pair finished a disappointing 15th for a total of 624.6.

Sunday has two events with Indian interests. Manu Bhaker takes the field again alongside Rahi Sarnobat for the first precision stage of the women’s 25m Pistol, another Olympic event. Then Sanjeev Rajput and Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar fight for medals in the men’s 50m rifle 3-positions event.

(With PTI inputs)