Fri, 01 Dec 2023

Hangzhou [China], October 1 (ANI): Indian badminton team's coach Pullela Gopichand said they missed their star shuttler HS Prannoy, saying that his playing the first match of the gold medal clash would have actually helped them.

Prannoy missed the Asian Games final due to an injury.

India finished with a silver medal in the men's team badminton event at the ongoing Asian Games in Hangzhou, losing the gold quest after a 2-3 defeat to China.

Lakshya Sen and the men's doubles pair Satwik Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty got India off to a flier but the team failed to capitalise on it as they let the hosts China script a comeback and take the tie 3-2.

Gopichand said in these close games it is hard to gain momentum and that's what happened to World No. 21 Kidambi Srikanth, who fumbled in crunch moments to let the local boy Li Shifeng bounce back from a two-point deficit into taking the match for China 24-22, 21-9.

"We missed Prannoy in some sense. His playing the first singles would have actually helped. Then we would have had two solid men's singles and one men's doubles who have been our best. But unfortunately Prannoy not being there definitely was a dent. These are close matches if you are able to pull out that tight first game in that third tie, then you would actually have an entire moumentum with us. That's what happened with Srikanth, once we lost the moumentum then it's actually tough in these conditions," Gopichand told reporters.

In their campaign to the final, the Indian men's badminton registered a thrilling 3-2 win over the Republic of Korea in the semi-finals after blanking Nepal 3-0 in the quarters.

Lakshya who played the first match in the tie defeated Shi Yuqi 22-20, 14-21, 21-18 while the World No. 2 men's double-ranked Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy prevailed over Weikeng Liang and Chang Wang 21-15, 21-18 to hand India a 2-0 lead.

"Having said that yesterday they beat Korea in a fantastic match where Srikanth played a fantastic match. Lakshya played some brilliant badminton and Prannoy took out the very crucial first singles. Today the way Satwik-Chirag and Lakshya played was fantastic," Gopichand said.

"There are a lot of positives which we have. Reaching the Asian Games final is a big thing. Winning silver is a huge. We are looking at some of the best teams in the world compete. We had that slight chance to pull out gold. We won a very proud and hard-fought silver," he added.

Commonwealth Games champion Lakshya had to dig deep to register a 22-20, 14-21, 21-18 victory over Shi Yuqi in the first match.

Lakshya lauded his team for their performance saying that after winning silver, they will now shift their focus to individual events.

"It was a really good tournament for us. The way the team played in the final was very.... we had chances in the third match but I think overall, it was a good tournament for all of us. Now individual events are starting and we will focus on that," he told ANI.

Starting the proceedings for the Indian team, Sen was trailing 10-14 at one stage in the final game but conjured a fantastic turnaround to win the game by 22-20.

Sen had his moments in the second game but was playing catch-up for the most part. Both players showed signs of fatigue as the rallies grew shorter and the error count rose. However, it was Yuqi who came out victorious and struck back hard to take Lakshya to the deciding game.

Lakshya displayed tremendous grit, endurance, and in-game smarts to pull off a sensational win for India 22-20, 14-21, 21-18 against World No. 6 Yuqi Shi.

Talking about his performance in the gold medal match, Lakshya said, "It was the first match of the tie so it was quite important for me and the whole team. The way I started the match was good but then in the second I made a few mistakes, thus that slipped away. But really happy with my performance the way I played in the third game after 11-15 down. So it gave us a lot of confidence."Indian badminton contingent will now play in the singles, doubles and mixed doubles events, starting from Monday. (ANI)

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