With their backs pushed to the wall following defeats in the opening two clashes of the five-match quarterfinal tie against Hong Kong China, India staged a stirring fightback to win 3-2 and make history, assuring themselves of a medal for the first time in the Badminton Asia Mixed Team Championships.
In the do-or-die men’s doubles, the third match of the tie, Indian were on the brink as Chirag Shetty and Dhruv Kapila lost a hard-fought opening game to Man Tang and Shing Choi Yeung before bouncing back for a 20-22, 21-16, 21-11 victory to keep India alive at the Expo City-Dubai Exhibition Centre.
Star shuttler PV Sindhu then used all her experience to get the better of Saloni Samirbhai Mehta 16-21, 21-7, 21-9 to take the tie to the fifth match.
It was then that Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand, daughter of the legendary Pullela Gopichand, completed India’s unforgettable come-from-behind victory with a 21-13, 21-12 win over Tsz Yau and Wing Yung in the women’s doubles.
“It was wonderful how the team turned it around and won this match today,” coach Guru Sai Dutt told reporters as the jubilant Indian players celebrated the victory on the court.
“It means something, coming back from 2-0 down and then we were 1-0 down in the men’s doubles. But Chirag and Dhruv fought back. Then Sindhu was also under pressure again to win, but as she always does, she stepped up again.
“Then girls won the doubles. So it was a wonderful team effort. I think we should take it forward now as tomorrow (Saturday) we have the semifinal. We are up for it.”
It was not an ideal start to India’s campaign on Friday when Dubai girl Tanisha Crasto and her partner Ishaan Bhatnagar lost the mixed doubles match (26-24, 21-17) despite enjoying a commanding 11-1 lead in the first game.
The onus was on Lakshya Sen, the All England Championship runner-up and Commonwealth Games gold medallist, to help India draw level with Hong Kong China.
Sen was brilliant in his returns, but Angus Ng Ka Long was equal to the task and won the bigger moments to clinch the gripping men’s singles match 20-22, 21-19, 21-18.
Few teams could have made a comeback from such tricky position.
But India did, thanks to their never-say-die spirit and passionate support from the crowd as well as the chants from the team members and coaching staff that created an amazing atmosphere by beating drums and blowing the vuvuzela.
“Actually, we started it at the Thomas Cup, since then it’s always been a part of our team event,” Chriag Shetty told reporters of the rhythmic beats of the team members to support the players on court.
“If you want to win such matches, the support from your team is important and it raises your game at least 10 per cent.”
India will certainly need more of that when they lock horns with China on Saturday for a place in Sunday’s final.
China, the defending champions, overcame Malaysia 3-2 in their quarterfinal.
Meanwhile, Thailand beat Japan (3-2) to set up with a semifinal clash with South Korea who defeated Indonesia 3-1.
India beat Hong Kong China 3-2
Chun Hei Lee/Tsz Yau (Hong Kong China) beat Ishaan Bhatnagar/Tanisha Crasto (India) 26-24, 21-17
Angus Ng Ka Long (Hong Kong China) beat Lakshya Sen (India) 20-22, 21-19, 21-18
Chirag Shetty/Dhruv Kapila (India) beat Chun Man Tang/Shing Choi Yeung (Hong Kong China) 20-22, 21-16, 21-11
PV Sindhu (India) beat Saloni Samirbhai Mehta (Hong Kong China) 16-21, 21-7, 21-9
Treesa Jolly/Gayatri Gopichand (India) beat Tsz Yau/Wing Yung (Hong Kong China) 21-13, 21-12
South Korea beat Indonesia 3-1
Thailand beat Japan 3-2
China beat Malaysia 3-2
South Korea vs Thailand
India vs China
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