Indian men’s and women’s badminton teams completed their group stage with contrasting defeats at the Thomas and Uber Cup Final in Bangkok on Wednesday. The losses, even though it had no bearing on India’s progression into the quarterfinals of the competition, could deflate the confidence, especially that of the women who went down 0-5 to South Korea in Group D. The men went down 1-4 to Chinese Taipei in Group C.
The losses may cause an alarm in the Indian camp as the players folded while facing their first real test in the tournament. Both the sides had played lower ranked opponents in the opening two matches before entering the fray to decide the group winners.
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Indian women’s side, led by PV Sindhu, had already secured a top 2 finish from Group D by virtue of beating Canada and USA. The loss against Korea has pitted them against a tough Thailand side in the quarters. Korea was their first quality opponent in the competition and the Indians seemed overawed. The Koreans exposed the lack of depth and experience in the Indian side.
Sindhu succumbed to her fifth straight fifth loss to world No. 4 An Seyoung. The double Olympic medallist lost 15-21, 14-21 in a lopsided contest, conceding a 0-1 lead to Korea.
The doubles team of Shruti Mishra and Simran Singhi was no match for the world No. 2 pair of Lee Sohee and Shin Seungchan, going down 13-21, 12-21 in 39 minutes. Aakarshi Kashyap did not last long either. She was sent packing 10-21, 10-21 by world No. 19 Kim Ga Eun.
In the next two matches -- dead rubbers -- Kim Hye Jeong and Kong Heeyong beat Tanisha Crasto and Treesa Jolly 21-14, 21-11, while Ashmita Chaliha lost 18-21, 17-21 to Sim Yujin.
The Indian men's team fought hard against Taipei with HS Prannoy, Lakshya Sen and the doubles pair of MR Arjun and Dhruv Kapila winning a game each. However, only Kidambi Srikanth could manage a victory and the rest folded, albeit after giving a fight.
Sen, world championships bronze medallist, lost 19-21, 21-13, 17-21 to world No. 4 four Chou Tien Chen in a clash that lasted an hour and 20 minutes.
The world No. 8 pairing of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty couldn't get past Lee Yang and Wang Chi-Lin, ranked 3rd, losing 11-21 19-21. India seemed on a comeback in the tie when world championship silver medallist Srikanth beat Tzu Wei Wang 21-19, 21-16 in 53 minutes.
The resurgence did not last though.
MR Arjun and Dhruv Kapila did show a stomach to fight. They saved four match points before going down 17-21, 21-19, 19-21 to Lu Ching Yao and Yang Po Han.
In the final match, world No. 23 HS Prannoy went down 18-21, 21-17, 18-21 to world No. 119 Lu Chia Hung in a close affair.
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