India set up a quarter-final clash with Indonesia despite losing their last group match to Korea at the Badminton Asia Junior Championships 2019 (Mixed Team Event) in Suzhou, China on Sunday. Maisnam Meiraba's herculean effort was the silver lining of the day for the Indian contingent in their 1-4 loss but by dint of finishing second to Korea in Group C, they made it to the last-eight.
On the first day of this prestigious continental event, India had blanked both Mongolia and Macau China by an identical score of 5-0.
Manipur's Meiraba had been in sterling form of late and he even won his first international tournament at the White Night Russian Junior International earlier this month. Meiraba refused to give up and fought for 1 hour 32 minutes to subdue Korea's Hyeon Seung Park.
While that was the solitary win of the day for Team India, there were encouraging performances from others as well. The doubles teams, especially, stood out for their gutsy displays in a losing cause.
The mixed doubles pair of Dingku Singh Konthoujam and Ritika Thaker fought for 56 minutes before going down 21-19, 12-21, 12-21 to Dong Ju Ki and Eun Ji Lee. Goa's Tanisha Crasto and Kerala's Treesa Jolly were equally impressive in their 16-21, 21-16, 12-21 girls' doubles loss to Young Bin Ji and Eun Ji Lee.
The boys' doubles combine of Ishaan Bhatnagar and Vishnu Vardhan Goud Panjala found Korea's Dong Ju Ki and Joon Young Kim too strong in their 17-21, 15-21 defeat. In girls' singles, Malvika Bansod suffered a 10-21, 8-21 defeat to Ga Lam Kim.
"Korea was always supposed to be a tough hurdle but I am happy to see how the team performed under pressure," said Sanjay Mishra, India's Chief Junior National Coach. "They never looked to be intimidated and the attitude was perfect. The hard work that we did in the 15-day camp before the tournament paid off. With more experience and exposure, the youngsters can make a lot of difference," he added.
The result might not have gone in India's favour but there were a lot of positives to take from the brave performances which will most certainly help them when they face off against the mighty Indonesians on Monday. The stamina and tenacity shown by the youngsters, as demonstrated by their close three-game losses, speaks volumes of their improvements.