The Indian contingent started well at the All England Badminton Championships with HS Prannoy and Lakshya Sen winning their first-round games on Tuesday.
India's HS Prannoy survived some anxious moments before advancing to the second round while Lakshya Sen registered a convincing win against fifth-seeded Chou Tien Chen.
HS Prannoy defeated Tzi Wei Wang 21-19,22-20 while Lakshya Sen eked out a 21-18, 21-19 win over Chou Tien Chen in 49 minutes.
Prannoy looked in good touch as he reeled off five points on the trot to zoom to a comfortable 11-4 lead. However, the Indian was guilty of missing the lines twice and also found the net, allowing Wang to cut down the deficit to three points at 11-14.
Prannoy managed to pull away to 18-12 with four straight points before Wang broke the run of points with an aggressive return after a fast-paced rally.
Wang then punished Prannoy for his weak returns and moved to 16-19 with a deceptive net return. Prannoy then unleashed a cross-court smash to move to the game point and then sent down another straight smash to close the game.
The second game was a tightly fought battle from the word go as Wang opened up a 7-2 lead. Prannoy leveled the scores, only to miss the lines at his opponent's forehand corner twice.
He eventually brought down a booming smash to eke out a one-point lead at the break. The two engaged in a slugfest next, moving neck and neck till 16-16.
Two venomous returns gave Prannoy a 19-17 lead but he once again squandered it as Wang made it 19-19. The Taiwanese went long next to hand over a match point to the Indian, who wasted it. However, a determined Prannoy ensured there were no last-minute hiccups as he rejoiced once Wang went to the net.
Similarly, Lakshya Sen started well against Chou Tien Chen displaying exemplary net play. The match started with both the players taking a few points off each other as it went to 7-7.
Lakshya raced down to an 11-8 lead at mid-game break owing to his brilliant smashes.
Chou was struggling to handle the winners and jump smashes after the break as Lakshya went 15-9 up and was racing away. Chou showed his experience and with some sideline smashes he reduced the gap to 12-16.
Further, Chou used his brilliant defense and counter-attacked to bring the score to 17-17. Although when it looked that Lakshya might let it slip, he controlled the game with his drops and closed the game 21-18.
The second game started with Lakshya Sen racing into a lead of 5-3. But like most of the times in the game, Chou came back very hard and took five consecutive points to make it 8-5.
The game moved neck-to-neck after as Chou was forcing Lakshya into errors and Lakshya was tiring Chou with his long rallies. The rallies were mostly decided by mistakes.
Lakshya took a lead of 17-13 and it looked like he will close the game with rather ease but Chou made another mini-comeback to take it to 18-20 before Lakshya closed the game at 21-19.
HS Prannoy will face Anthony Ginting of Indonesia and Lakshya will face Anders Antonsen of Denmark in the second round.
Other Indian shuttlers such as Kidambi Srikanth, PV Sindhu, and Satwik Rankireddy/Chirag Shetty will start their campaign.
(With PTI Inputs)