A young but depleted Indian men’s badminton team crashed out of the Thomas Cup Final after losing 0-5 to heavyweights China in their last Group A match in Bangkok on Tuesday.
Sai Praneeth showed stomach to fight but H S Prannoy seemed completely off colour while the rest of the Indian shuttlers lacked the experience to compete against their Chinese counterparts.
World No. 9 Prannoy started the proceedings but he had a bad day in office as he was completely outplayed 9-21 9-21 by Olympic champion Chen Long in the opening match.
Yong Arjun M R and Shlok Ramachandran played with a lot of heart and produced some good rallies before going down 12-21 15-21 to World No. 3 pair of Liu Cheng and Zhang Nan.
Praneeth then put up a good fight before losing 9-21 21-15 12-21 to Shi Yuqi in the second singles as China took an unassailable 3-0 lead.
After being outclassed in the opening game, Praneeth showed good temperament and patience in the second as he caught the shuttle early near the court and upped his defence.
He changed the pace and played some exceptional shots to dominate the second game. He led at the break and kept his nose ahead to come back in the contest.
But in the decider, Shi Yuqi again stepped up the pace to zoom to a 7-2 lead at one stage. Praneeth erred with his strokes as Shi Yuqi grabbed a 11-4 lead.
Praneeth, who had a good run of three points, bruised his finger and had to take a medical timeout. He lost momentum after that as the Chinese moved to a 14-7 lead. In the end, it was two miscued shots from Praneeth which saw Shi Yuqi emerge victories.
In the second men’s doubles, Arun George and Sanyam Shukla gave a tough fight before going down 15-21 22-20 15-21 against World No. 4 Chinese pair of Li Junhui and Liu Yuchen.
In the last match, the third singles, young Lakshya Sen gave ample display of his talent though he lost 21-16 9-21 8-21 to former World No. 1 and two-time former Olympic champion Lin Dan as China sealed the contest 5-0.
Sen had stretched the same opponent in New Zealand open a few weeks ago.
The 16-year old Sen took 16 minutes to pocket the opening game. He played with maturity but Lin Dan used his wealth of experience to grab a 11-7 lead before sealing it comfortably even as the Indian looked a little out of steam.
Sen showed commitment but could not give a stiff fight in the decider as the legendary Chinese walked away with the match without much ado.
India had lost to France 1-4 in the opening game before winning against lowly Australia 5-0.