Lakshya Sen continued his domination of Asian Games gold medalist Li Shi Feng and the rest of the Indian squad pushed overwhelming favourites and hosts China in all the matches but ended up on the wrong side of the 1-3 score line in the quarterfinals of the BWF Thomas and Uber Cup 2024 in Chengdu on Thursday.

The loss meant that India’s challenge in the competition came to an end as the women had lost to Japan by identical margin earlier in the day.

With India’s top men’s singles player HS Prannoy making a comeback following some health issues and doubles star Satwiksairaj Rankireddy also returning after a shoulder injury, Indians were always the underdogs despite being the defending champions.

But the players took the fight to their opponents as HS Prannoy took the opening game against Shi Yu Qi before going down 15-21, 21-11, 21-14.

The world no. 9 later admitted that he was still getting back to his best and the long match a day earlier could have also played a part in the third game.

“We had a long match yesterday while China had an off day. It may have also played a part once the rallies got long in the third game. But I am happy with the way I fought and will take a lot of learning from this tournament,” he said.

The Chinese then extended their lead as Liang Wei Keng and Wang Chang got the better of Satwiksairaj and Chirag Shetty 21-15, 11-21, 21-12.

Sen, who had a 6-3 head-to-head record against Li before this match,  then got India on the scoreboard as he shrugged off a bad start and the loss of opening game to register a dominating 13-21, 21-8, 21-14 win and kept Indian hopes alive.

Reflecting on his win the World No. 13 said, ”Conditions were a bit tricky and home crowd was pumped up because they were 2-0 up. The do-or-die situation did play in my head in first game. But the first two games got over quickly and weren’t tiring so the decider was all about controlling the net and being steady”.

But upsetting the world no. 11 combination of Ren Xiang Yu and He Ji Ting was always going to be an uphill task for the scratch pairing of Dhruv Kapila and Sai Pratheek K. To their credit, the youngsters showed a lot of gumption before going down 10-21, 10-21.

In the women’s quarterfinal, Ashmita Chaliha and Isharani Baruah pushed their much higher ranked opponents but could not cause an upset.

In the first singles, Ashmita saved a match point against World no. 11 Aya Ohori and led 11-9 at the interval in the decider. But Ohori used all her experience to raise the tempo immediately after to take five straight points and then went on to wrap the match 21-10, 22-24, 21-15 in an hour and seven minutes.

The world no. 4 combination of Nami Matsuyama and Chiharu Shida then doubled Japan’s lead with a 21-8, 21-9 victory over national champions Priya Konjengbam and Shruti Mishra.

Isharani Baruah then gave a good account of her abilities as she kept pace with former world champion Nozomi Okuhara and even lead 14-11 in the opening game before the experienced Japanese turned the tables by winning 10 of the next 11 points.

The second game went identical to the first as both players stayed neck and neck till 9-9 before Okuhara marched ahead for a 21-15, 21-12 win to seal the quarterfinals in Japan’s favour.

Women: India lost to Japan 0-3 (Ashmita Chaliha lost to Aya Ohori 10-21, 22-20, 15-21; Priya Konjengbam/Shruti Mishra lost to Nami Matsuyama/Chiharu Shida 8-21, 9-21; Isharani Baruah lost to Nozomi Okuhara 15-21, 12-21)

Men: India lost to China 1-3 (HS Prannoy lost to Shi Yu Qi 21-15, 11-21, 14-21; Satwiksairaj Rankireddy/Chirag Shetty lost to Liang Wei Keng/Wang Chang 15-21, 21-11, 12-21; Lakshya Sen bt Li Shi Feng 13-21, 21-8, 21-14; Dhruv Kapila/Sai Pratheek K lost to He Ji Ting/Ren Xiang Yu 10-21, 10-21).


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