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Badminton Asia Team C'ships: Kidambi Srikanth falters as India crashes out

Indian men's badminton team lost 2-3 against Japan in quarters to crash out from the Badminton Asia Team Championships.

Kidambi Srikanth Badminton

Kidambi Srikanth in action in round of 32 of India Open 2024 (Source: BAI)


The Bridge Desk

Updated: 16 Feb 2024 3:45 PM GMT

For all the resilience and skills Kidambi Srikanth displayed, he exploded nervously in the last moments against Kento Momota of Japan in the quarterfinal of the Badminton Asia Team Championships on Friday.

Srikanth's loss meant that the Indian men's team would return from the tournament empty-handed after losing a closely fought battle against Japan in the last 8.

The Indian team lost 2-3 with Lakshya Sen and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy/Chirag Shetty winning their matches while HS Prannoy, Kidmabi Srikanth, and Dhruv Kapila/Arjun MR lost.

In the first match of the tie, HS Prannoy produced a brilliant fightback against Kenta Nishimoto as he recovered from 9-19 down in the second game after losing the opener. He even held game points twice but it was not to be as Kento Nishimoto managed to upstage the Indian.

After a 64-minute battle, world no. 12 Nishimoto walked away with a 21-16, 26-24 win to give Japan a 1-0 lead in the five-match rubber.

World number pair of Satwik and Chirag proved too much for the world number 30 Kenya Mitsuhashi and Hiroki Okamura

World no. 1 pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty then dished out a splendid show to outwit world no. 30 Kenya Mitsuhashi and Hiroki Okamura 21-15, 21-17 in 40 minutes to bring India back into the contest.

As India equalized the tie score, Lakshya Sen came up against World number 20 Koki Watanabe.

Despite struggling in the first game, Lakshya Sen dispatched Watanabe in straight games to win 21-19, 22-20, and give India the 2-1 lead in the tie.

Indian second doubles pair Arjun and Dhruv had a chance to seal the match but the world number 44 pair failed to do well against the Japanese scratch pair of Akira Koga and Kazuki Shibata.

The tie went into the decider with two former world number ones Kento Momota and Kidambi Srikanth to battle it out.

The odds were against Srikanth as he had defeated Momota only thrice, with the last win coming in 2015. The Indian made a determined effort only to blow it away in the end.

Srikanth started well in the first game but Momota held an early lead of 8-6. Srikanth came back and overturned the deficit to make it 16-11. Momota wasn't expecting the cross smashes from Srikanth as the Indian pair closed the game with a jump smash.

When the ends changed in the second game, Srikanth looked clueless as Momota gained his rhythm back to win the second game 21-9 with rather ease.

Momota started with a 0-3 lead in the deciding but Srikanth recovered from the deficit to lead at the mid-game interval. He continued his cross-smashes and led 16-10 with just five points away from the win.

He zoomed to a 19-12 lead with one leg in the semi-final of the tournament.

Tragedy struck in the final moments as Srikanth started breaking down under pressure and committing errors at the net gifting points to Momota. His errors coupled with his poor judgement for shuttles dropping near the baseline.

Momota grabbed the opportunity to take eight consecutive points and make it 20-19. Srikanth saved one point but then he made errors handing the match to Momota and Japan.

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