Asian Games: Srikanth, Prannoy crash out

India’s campaign ends in men’s singles.

Kidambi Srikanth came into the match with a 5-2 head-to-head record against Wong Wing Ki but it didn’t matter as the Hong Kong shuttler proved to be a better player on the evening.   -  AFP

Right from the time he landed in Jakarta for the Asiad, K. Srikanth had appeared very low on confidence. He did not look the player who had been the World No. 1 just four months ago. When one asked him about the field here the other day, he said he had more to worry about his own game than about others.

Hong Kong’s Wing Ki Wong Vincent, the World No. 28, came up with some fine end-game play as he jolted the sixth-seeded Indian 23-21, 21-19 in the men’s singles first round at the GBK Istora Stadium here on Friday evening.

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A couple of hours later, the Indian campaign ended in men’s singles with World No. 11 H. S. Prannoy losing to Thailand’s Kantaphon Wangcharoen, the No. 20, 12-21, 21-15, 15-21.

Despite their best-ever World ranking going into an Asiad, the Indians have not forgotten the pressure that comes when they play at the continental event. P. V. Sindhu, the women’s World No. 3, was left rattled by Taipei’s Vu Thi Trang on Thursday and on Friday, it was Srikanth’s turn and later Prannoy’s, too.

Srikanth, the highest-ranked Indian player among men here, led 15-11 in the opening game but he frittered away the advantage soon and the two were level at 17. And as the game spilled into extra points, Srikanth choked.

Costly mistakes

The second game was close for a major part but the Indian was slightly ahead at 18-16. And the turning point came when the unseeded Hong Kong player took four points in a row and that floored the sixth seed.

Srikanth was shattered. Chief coach Gopi Chand said his trainee could have handled the end points better. “It was a match that could have gone either way. A couple of mistakes in both the games in the end were what cost him,” said Gopi. “Wing Ki is a decent player and he played really well. But Srikanth could have done better in the end.”

Prannoy had nothing much to say after the loss. “I’m tired,” he mumbled as he walked away.

There were more surprises too. The loud crowd at the stadium, which appeared to intimidate rival players, inspired Indonesia’s Jonatan Christie, the World No. 15, to jolt China’s top-seeded Shi Yuki, the runner-up at the recent Worlds, 21-19, 19-21, 21-17.