HS Prannoy battled his way to the semifinals, becoming only the first Indian in 41 years to win a badminton medal in men’s singles at the Asian Games, but it was curtains for PV Sindhu in women’s singles in Hangzhou on Thursday. Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty then progressed to the last four, becoming the second Indian men’s doubles pair to secure a medal after Leroy D’sa and Pradeep Gandhe won a bronze in 1982. Playing with a taping on his lower back and a belt under his shirt, Prannoy battled severe back spasm to dish out a performance for the ages, outshining Malaysia’s Lee Zii Jia 21-16 21-23 22-20 in the quarterfinals to assure India a second badminton medal at the ongoing Games. (Asian Games 2023 Medals Tally | Asian Games 2023 Full Schedule)
India had won a silver in men’s team championships last Sunday.
“I think it was a really tough one out there. I think Lee is always a tough opponent. It was a very physical match today for me,” Prannoy said after the match.
“I’m not at all in a condition where I could say I’m 80 per cent right. But I think to pull off something like this, I would give a lot of credit to myself. I think the will to fight was always there. So I think that paid off.” Prannoy will face home favourite China’s Li Shi Feng for a spot in the final.
Satwik and Chirag then claimed a men’s doubles medal after 41 years with an easy 21-7 21-9 win over Singapore’s Nge Joo Jie and Johann Prajogo in the quarterfinals to set up a clash with Malaysia’s Aaron Chia and Sooh Wooi Yik on Friday.
However, Sindhu had to endure the pain of returning without a medal for the first time in nine years after she lost 16-21 12-21 to world No.5 Chinese He Bingjiao in 47 minutes to bow out of the competition.
After fighting his way through a marathon 78-minute contest, the 31-year-old Prannoy from Kerala fell on the court in disbelief. He then removed his shirt, fist-pumped and ran into the arms of chief coach Pullela Gopichand.
Prannoy thus ended India’s long wait for a men’s singles medal at the Asian Games with Syed Modi winning the first — a bronze — at the 1982 edition in New Delhi.
The world championships bronze medallist was ruled out of team championships final due to the back injury, as India went down 2-3 to China, to settle for a silver.
“It is affecting me. But that’s how sport is. You can’t be 100 per cent every day. But you have to learn to pull off matches even when you’re 60 or 70 per cent. I think today was one of those days when I had to do that,” he said.
Prannoy displayed his mental fortitude as he rallied his way from a 5-11 deficit to grab the opening game and then had two match points in the second only to see it slip away.
But Prannoy quickly wiped the slate clean and once again fought his way back in the decider, saved two match points with his booming smashes and deceptions to register a great victory.
Prannoy had beaten Lee, a former All England Champion, at the Badminton Asia Championships in Dubai but he didn’t have a good start.
However, the Indian managed to erase a six-point deficit at the break to grab four game points with Lee faltering with his length and going long and wide. He converted at the first chance.
Prannoy used his drops and deceptions to vary the pace of the rallies and lead 7-4 before taking a two point lead at interval. Lee fought his way to a 15-13 lead before the Indian regained his lead with three successive points and soon stood just two points away from a win at 20-18.
However, a couple of net cords went the Malaysian’s way as Lee drew level and earned a game point at 22-21. He took the match to the decider after Prannoy found the net.
Prannoy lagged 2-4 early in the third game. He then tried to prolong the rallies with deep tosses but he lacked the finishing, often hitting the net or wide as Lee lead 7-4.
However, he once again scripted a recovery to claw back at 8-8 before Lee committed few unforced errors as the Indian lead 11-10 at the break.
A perfect net shot after a long rally took Prannoy to 13-10. Two deep smashes on both sides took him to 15-13. But Lee kept breathing down his neck and made it 16-16.
Struggling with his back, Prannoy then called for a medical time out for applying magic spray.
On resumption, Lee stepped up the pace and unleashed a body smash and another smash on Prannoy’s backhand to pull away.
A long rally ensued at 18-19 as Lee came up with a smash to gain two match points. Prannoy then sent two accurate cross hits to make it 20-20. He then gained one match point and converted with another precise smash.
(This story has not been edited by String Reveals staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
Topics mentioned in this article