Lakshya Sen lone bright spot as India knocked out of Thomas Cup, Uber Cup

Two years after India claimed their maiden Thomas Cup title, the country's shuttlers went down fighting 1-3 to China
India’s Lakshya Sen
India’s Lakshya Sen(File photo | AP)

CHENGDU: Lakshya Sen was the lone bright spot as the Indian men's team failed to defend its title after going down fighting 1-3 to China in the quarterfinals, while the women's side suffered a 0-3 loss to Japan to also end their campaign in the Thomas Cup and Uber Cup here on Thursday.

Two years after India claimed their maiden title at the World Men's Team Championships, the country's shuttlers endured a tough day in office as world No.9 HS Prannoy, world No.3 Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty and Dhruv Kapila and Sai Pratheek K failed to go the distance in their respective matches.

It was a rematch of the 2023 Asian Games team final which India lost 2-3 to sign off with a maiden silver.

The Indian team had ended their group stage at the second spot after losing 1-4 to Indonesia late on Wednesday, while the Chinese had an off day and the hosts seemed to be in better shape as they ticked all the boxes to come up trumps once again at the big stage.

A roaring start ended with a dampener for Prannoy as his spirited fight concluded with a 21-15 11-21 14-21 loss against world No.2 Shi Yu Qi in a 66-minute clash which gave China a 1-0 lead.

"I don't know but surely I think China had one day off and they came in (the contest) much more fresher. It makes a big difference in the third game. Unfortunate to kind of play today," said Prannoy after the loss.

"I will say that we had a very long night and by the time we slept it was 1.32 (am) and to kind of get back to the energy levels I think is definitely less," he added.

"Everybody was very disappointed last night (after the loss to Indonesia), but to come out and play such a big match against the home crowd in less than 13 to 14 hours is a big task mentally out there because you just lost out with a big opponent like Indonesia," said Prannoy.

For the second successive day, Satwik and Chirag had to walk back without logging a point for India after they were outmanoeuvred 15-21 21-11 12-21 by the world No.1 pair of Liang Wei Keng and Wang Chang as the visitors slipped to 0-2.

All eyes were on Lakshya Sen to keep India afloat, given his 6-3 head-to-head count against Li Shi Feng, and the 22-year-old from Almora lived up to the expectations, seeing off the world No.6 13-21 21-8 21-14 to pull one back.

However, Dhruv and Sai went down 10-21 10-21 to world No.11 pair of Ren Xiang Yu and He Ji Ting to put paid to India's hopes.

Earlier, Ashmita Chaliha and Isharani Baruah gave a good account of themselves before the young and inexperienced Indian women's team suffered a 0-3 loss to formidable Japan in the quarterfinals of the Uber Cup.

Despite missing top guns such as PV Sindhu, India had qualified for the knockout stage with two superior victories against Canada and Singapore in the group stage but the 0-5 defeat against powerhouse China in the final league match was a reality check.

On Thursday, India fought hard against multiple-time winners Japan with Chaliha and Isharani Baruah giving a good account of themselves in their singles matches.

World No.53 Chaliha showed once again that she has the wherewithal to trouble the top players during her narrow 10-21 22-20 15-21 loss to world No.11 Aya Ohori in a 67-minute contest.

The 20-year-old Isharani, ranked 83rd, too was up 14-11 and 9-7 in the first and second games before losing 15-21 12-21 to 2017 World Championships and former world No.1 Nozomi Okuhara.

In between, national champions Priya Konjengbam and Shruti Misra found a glimpse of what it would take to succeed at the highest level as they succumbed to a 8-21 9-21 loss to world No.4 Nami Matsuyama and Chiharu Shida.

India had reached the semifinals of the Uber Cup thrice in 1957, 2014 and 2016.

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