Hyderabad: It was a perfect start for the rising doubles duo of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty but no so for B Sai Praneeth in the men’s singles on the opening day of the badminton event in Tokyo Olympics on Saturday.
The Mathias Boe-coached Satwik and Chirag pair stunned the World No.3 pair of Yang Lee and Chi-Lin Wang of Chinese Taipei 21-16 16-21 27-25 in the strong Group A match. But Praneeth flattered to deceive as he lost to World No. 47 Misha Zilberman of Israel 17-21, 15-21 in the opening Group D match.
The World No.10 pair of Satwik and Chirag lived up to their reputation. They played an aggressive and clinical game to derail the World No.3 pair. It was a hard battle but the Indian pair kept their nerves, particularly in the third game to clinch an important win.
Former doubles international V Diju said Satwik and Chirag have jelled very well in the last few years. “They have a perfect understanding. Their communication was very good and they never lost their focus despite the match going into the third game. I liked the way Chirag controlled the shuttle while Satwik was cool near the net and often unleashed some powerful smashes to rattle the Chinese Taipei pair,’’ he said.
The Indian duo began strongly and they ran to a 7-2 lead and never looked back in the first game. Former national coach Bhaskar Babu was all praise for the Indians. “The game revolved around Chirag. He played with a lot of confidence. He was flawless and confident. He made only one mistake throughout the game. Satwik stayed at the net. His net game was very good and stunned the opponents with his well-directed smashes. The Indians totally dominated the first game,’’ he said.
However, in the second game the Chinese Taipei pair tightened the defence a bit and began to collect points more easily. “Perhaps the drift may have troubled the Indians,’’ said Babu.
The third game was a thriller. The two pairs were entwined in a sticky contest, with neither managing to break free. It was close but after the break, the Chinese Taipei pair ran away to a good lead as Chirag and Satwik somehow made a few errors. Lee and Wang even went to 19-16 lead. ‘’Here I think Satwik raised his game. He was deceptive at the net and played a couple of powerful smashes. They clawed back strongly and leveled it before taking a 20-19 lead. What I liked about the Indian pair was that they never panicked. They played a cool and calculated game to win the third game in a tense finish.’’
Babu said Praneeth looked rusty against Zilberman. ”The Israel player played a parallel game that caught Praneeth on the wrong foot. Praneeth’s game slipped and made some silly errors. I thought Praneeth should have changed his tactics but he did not. It was bad start for Praneeth.’’
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