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28 Sep, 2021
The Indian team lost its second straight tie at the Sudirman Cup, and with that it is now out of contention for a QFs berth. Playing against defending champions and the very formidable Chinese side, the Indian contingent managed to put up a fight in some of the match-ups but couldn’t find a win and were eventually blanked out by the Chinese 0-5.
Playing their second group A match at the Energia Areena in Vantaa, Finland, the Indian team made two changes to its line-up. B Sai Praneeth swapped places with Srikanth Kidambi, playing the men’s singles while Srikanth paired up with Rutaparna Panda for the mixed doubles.
Up on court number one, the Indian team started the tie with the men’s doubles clash between Dhruv Kapila/MR Arjun and Liu Cheng/ZH Dong. A pulsating opening game saw the Indian boys make a stirring comeback from 15-8 down, to tie the match at 20-apiece, before losing the tightly fought game. To have seven straight points off the Chinese was indeed a remarkable feat, and the Indians displayed some real grit right through the contest.
The second game was an equally intense affair, with Dhruv/Arjun staying close on the heels of the Chinese in the opening exchanges. At 8-8, the Chinese pulled away to open up a four-point cushion but that was quickly thwarted as the Indians once again came back on level terms, 15-15. A decider looked on the cards, and for a brief moment the Indians were on the charge but the Chinese kept their nerve, and held the game to take the opening match-up.
In the women’s singles, India’s Aditi Bhatt was up against world number 2, Chen Yu Fei and the vastly experienced Chinese player hardly broke sweat taking the match in just 27 minutes, 21-9 21-8. The men’s singles match-up between Sai Praneeth and Shi Qi Yi did promise a little more of an even contest but the Chinese were far too superior against a jaded looking Sai. A score line of 21-10 21-10 hardly the kind of expected from one of top Indian singles player.
With the tie already wrapped up, the duo of Sikki Reddy/Ashwini Ponnappa, took to the court for their women’s doubles encounter against Li Wen Mei/Zheng Yu. A confident start gave the Indians a 4-1 lead, before the Chinese got going and close down the gap. An even contest through the opening game was tied at 11-apiece, and it could have been anyone’s game. But a four-point charge post the opening game interval gave the advantage to the Chinese and they pressed home to take the lead.
The second game followed a similar trajectory as the Indians raced to a 6-2 lead, but then lost six points on the bounce to let the Chinese away. Once ahead, the Chinese barely gave the Indians a whiff, and went home to take the match 21-16 21-13.
Mixed Doubles was the final encounter for the day for the Indians, Kidambi/Panda taking on FY Zhe/Du Yue. And it was a bit of a mismatch, as the makeshift Indian pair barely made the Chinese sweat, who took the game in just 29 minutes, 21-9 21-9.
This effectively ends India’s chances of qualifying for the next stage, and leaves them with just pride to play for in the final group encounter on Wednesday. Without the likes of PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal and the exciting Satwik/Chirag combination as well as a settled mixed doubles combination has come to hurt the Indian team at the tournament.