Updated February 16th, 2024 at 19:46 IST

BATC: Indian women assured of historic medal, but men's team loses to Japan in QF

Indian women shuttlers assured themselves of a historic first-ever Badminton Asia Team Championships medal by cruising to a 3-0 win over Hong Kong but their male counterparts failed to replicate the feat, going down narrowly 2-3 to Japan in the quarterfinals here on Friday.

Para badminton | Image:X/SAI_Media

 Indian women shuttlers assured themselves of a historic first-ever Badminton Asia Team Championships medal by cruising to a 3-0 win over Hong Kong but their male counterparts failed to replicate the feat, going down narrowly 2-3 to Japan in the quarterfinals here on Friday.

After stunning top seeds China to top the group stage, the India women blanked Hong Kong riding on wins from double Olympic-medallist PV Sindhu, Ashmita Chaliha and the doubles pair of Ashwini Ponappa and Tanisha Crasto.

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The Indian women shuttlers will now face top seed Japan, who beat China 3-2 in another quarterfinal.

The Indian men produced a gallant effort but a nervous Kidambi Srikanth imploded in the end, blowing away a 19-12 lead in the third game of the deciding fifth match as they fell short against a second-string Japan in a tightly-contested quarterfinal.

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India had won two bronze medals in men's team event in the 2016 and 2020 editions.

Returning from a long injury layoff, Sindhu registered a hard-fought 21-7, 16-21, 21-12 win over a lower-ranked Lo Sin Yan Happy.

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The women's doubles combination of Tanisha and Ponnappa then doubled the lead by getting the better of world no. 18 combination of Yeung Nga Ting and Yeung Pui Lam 21-10, 21-14 in 35 minutes.

Ashmita wrapped up the tie with a comfortable 21-12, 21-13 triumph over Yeung Sum Yee, assuring the team of at least a bronze.

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"It is a comfortable result for the women's team. I am very happy with their performance," former national coach Vimal Kumar, who is with the team, told PTI from Shah Alam.

"There was a little drift, so it was initially difficult to control the shuttle as it was going out. Sindhu was stretched a bit as it was tough from one end due to the drift but it is a good result, we are in the semifinals." For the Indian men, it turned out to be a pulsating contest even though Japan, the 2016 finalists, were without their top players -- world no. 6 Kodai Naroka and 2021 world champion doubles pair of Takuro Hoki and Yugo Kobayashi.

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Known for his never-say-die attitude, HS Prannoy produced yet another spirited fight back as he recovered from 9-19 down in the second game after losing the opener. He even held game points twice but it was not to be as Kento Nishimoto managed to upstage the Indian.

After a 64-minute battle, it was world no. 12 Nishimoto, who walked away with a 21-16, 26-24 win to give Japan a 1-0 lead in the five-match rubber.

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World no. 1 pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty then dished out a splendid show to outwit world no. 30 Kenya Mitsuhashi and Hiroki Okamura 21-15, 21-17 in 40 minutes to bring India back into the contest.

Commonwealth Games champion Lakshya Sen then outlasted Koko Watanabe, ranked 20th, 21-19, 22-20 and broke into a short jig as the win gave India a 2-1 lead.

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MR Arjun and Dhruv Kapila, world no. 44, however, couldn't seal the match, going down 17-21, 15-21 to scratch pair of Akira Koga and Kazuki Shibata as Japan clawed back.

With the tie evenly poised at 2-2, Srikanth was entrusted with the job of taming his nemesis Kento Momota, a two-time former world champion who has beaten the Indian 13 times in 16 meetings.

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The odds were against Srikanth as he had defeated Momota only thrice with the last win coming in 2015. The Indian put up a determined effort only to blow it away in the end.

Srikanth was 16-11 up after a tooth and nail battle and closed out the opening game with his trademark jump smash. The Indian used his forehand cross smashes to trouble the Japanese.

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After the change of ends, Momota got his act together and dictated the terms in the rallies to roar back into the contest.

In the deciding game, Srikanth recovered from a 0-3 deficit to zoom to a 19-12 lead but then tragedy struck as he made too many mistakes at the net, allowing the Japanese to reel off eight straight points to grab a match point.

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Srikanth saved one with a forehand cross but he sprayed the next one to the net to again hand over the advantage to the Japanese, who sealed it when the Indian went wide again.

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Published February 16th, 2024 at 19:46 IST