Indian men's run comes to an end in the semis

India’s joy on winning the first singles was short-lived as the host lost the next three matches to bow out of the tournament.

Kidambi Srikanth in action against Tommy Sugiarto of Indonesia in the first singles. The Indian captain helped his team get off to a rousing start in the semi-finals, but the rest failed to capitalise on the momentum.   -  Nagara Gopal

India’s campaign in the Happening Hyderabad Badminton Asia Team Championship came to an end with its men’s team losing to Indonesia 1-3 in the semi-finals at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium here on Saturday.

Captain Kidambi Srikanth once again gave India a rousing start with a 21-14, 23-25, 21-9 victory over World No. 10 Tommy Sugiarto in the first singles. It was a high-voltage display replete with stunning combination of big smashes and delectable drops by the players, which delighted the sparse crowd.

It was a stroke of luck that saw Sugiarto win the second game as the shuttle just rolled over, much to the dismay of the World No. 9 from India. However, in the decider, Srikanth was too good with his clever change of pace. He played more at the net to get the better of Sugiarto. It was Srikanth’s third win against the Indonesian in five meetings.

“The court was like that. You have to be aggressive from the word go. I did make a few mistakes early on, but once I managed to put the shuttle back in the court more frequently, things looked different for me,” Srikanth remarked later.

India’s joy, however, proved to be short-lived as the doubles combination of Manu Attri and B. Sumeeth Reddy came a cropper against Ahsan Mohammad and Hendra Setawan. Thereafter, Ajay Jayaram lost the second singles against Anthony Ginting 15-21, 20-22.

Though he was outplayed in the first game, Ajay did well to come back in the second after trailing 7-11 at one stage primarily because of his superior net game. But what decided the issue in favour of the Indonesian was his ability to score the big points under pressure.

It was then left to the second doubles combination of Pranav Chopra and Akshay Dewalkar to help India out of the slump. However, it was a dismal end to what had been an impressive campaign for the host, as the duo went down fighting.

In the other semi-final, Japan blanked Korea 3-0.

The results:

Men’s semi-finals: Japan bt Korea 3-0 (Kento Momota bt Son Wah Ho 21-14, 21-16; Endo Hiroyuki & Kim Gi Jung & Kim Sa Rang 19-21, 21-17, 21-16; Sho Sasaki bt Lee Dong Keun 20-22, 21-14, 21-16).

Indonesia bt India 3-1 (Tommy Sugiarto lost to K. Srikanth 14-21, 25-23, 9-21; Ahsan Mohammad & Hendra Setawan bt Manu Attri & B. Sumeeth Reddy 21-11, 21-10; Ginting Anthony bt Ajay Jayaram 21-15, 22-20; Pratama Angga & Suwardi Ricky Kanada bt Pranaav Chopra & Akshay Dewalkar 21-13, 18-21, 21-15).