India failed to make it to the quarter-finals of the 2018 Thomas Cup in Bangkok after suffering a 0-5 loss to top seeds China in their final group match on Tuesday. However, Indian doubles pair and single's star Lakshya Sen managed to impress all and sundry with their valiant effort.
Playing the opener of the tie, HS Prannoy slumped to a 9-21, 9-21 defeat to Olympic champion Chen Long and there started a downhill spiral for the Indian contingent. Just after first few rallies, Prannoy couldn’t move on the court properly and it seemed like he was suffering
After Prannoy’s loss in the tie opener, Indian doubles pair of Arjun MR and Shlok Ramchandran were up against the World No 3 Chinese Liu Cheng and Zhang Nan and the former seemed to be a no match for their opponents. The Indian pair managed to secure 12 and 15 points in two games, which may have been satisfying for them, but in reality, the world championship gold medallists hardly broke a sweat.
The onus was on Sai Praneeth to keep India’s chances alive in the tournament when he went up against world No 3 Shi Yuqi. However, the first game was anything but that. The All England Champion was in top form in the first game and did not let Sai get even a sniff of an advantage and eventually won the first game 21-9.
However, the last year’s Singapore Open champion put up a better show in the second game and wrapped the second game 21-15 to force the match into the decider. But, he failed to continue the same domination in the third game to hand a 21-9, 15-21, 21-12 victory to the Chinese, which put the tie beyond India’s reach.
However, India had the pride to play for and the pair of Arun George and Sanyam Shukla were up against the World No 4 pair of Li Junhui and Liu Yuchen. While the game was expected to be a cakewalk for the Chinese duo, the Indians made them struggle by keeping them right until the latter stages of the first game. However, at 17-15 lead, the Chinese pair won four straight points to take the game.
In the second game, although Li and Liu went on to hold one match point at 20-19, the Indians won the next three points to force a decider. However, unfortunately for India, Sanyam and Arun seemed to run out of juice in the third game and the Chinese pair comfortably won the third game to take the match 21-15.
The final match of the tie was a rematch between two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan and one of India’s brightest prospects in singles, Lakshya Sen after the duo met for the first time at the New Zealand Open earlier this month. Like Auckland, Sen again got the better of Dan in the first game, but when the Chinese upped the tempo in the subsequent games, it became all but over for Sen and he lost the next two games 9-21 and 8-21.
After India’s loss, China topped the group after recording 5-0 wins against all three opponents – France, Australia, and India.