Vantaa (Finland), Sep 28:
Competing without its star players, the Indian badminton team’s chances to qualify for the knockout stage of the Sudirman Cup ended after suffering a heavy 0-5 defeat against formidable China here on Monday.
It was India’s second consecutive defeat after losing the Group A opener to Thailand and now the final match against Finland on Wednesday has been rendered inconsequential.
Up against 11-time champions China, the chances were always slim for the new-look Indian team but the fact that the players couldn’t even win a single game reflects poorly on the bench strength in Indian badminton.
The absence of double Olympic medallist P.V. Sindhu, London Games bronze medallist Saina Nehwal and men’s doubles pair of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy also hurt India’s prospect as the team cut a sorry figure at the team-tournament.
Starting the proceedings, men’s doubles pair of MR Arjun and Dhruv Kapil put up a fight against Liu Cheng and Zhou Hao Dong before going down 20-22 ,17-21.
Young Aditi Bhatt then tested her skills against Olympic champion Chen Yu Fei, who expectedly notched up an easy 21-9, 21-8 win to put China ahead 2-0.
World No. 15 B Sai Praneeth then took the court against former All England Champion Shi Yuqi in men’s singles but it turned out be a one-sided affair as he went down 10-21, 10-21 as China sealed the contest by taking an unassailable 3-0 lead.
In the last two inconsequential matches of the tie, Commonweath Games bronze medallist Ashwini Ponnappa and N. Sikki reddy lost 16-21, 13-21 to Chinese world number 15 Zheng Yu and Li Wen Mei, while Du Yue and Feng Yan Zhe beat scratch pair of Kidambi Srikanth and Rutaparna Panda 9-21, 9-21 in the mixed doubles match.
In men’s singles, Praneeth suffered his fifth defeat to Shi Yuqi, who was clearly the better player on court as he troubled the Indian with his fierce pace and displayed solid defence.
Shi Yuqi, currently ranked 10th, played a high pace game and repeatedly brought down the shuttle at lightening speed to bamboozle the Indian, who was left to do the catch up act.