Satwik-Chirag crowned champions at Badminton Asia Championships - Hindustan Times

Satwik-Chirag crowned champions at Badminton Asia Championships

By, New Delhi
Apr 30, 2023 10:24 PM IST

The six seeds completed an epic fightback to beat Malaysian eighth seeds Ong Yew Sin and Teo Ee Yi in three games in the final of the tournament in Dubai

Down 16-21, 7-13, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty were on the verge of comprehensively losing the men’s doubles final at the Badminton Asia Championships in Dubai on Sunday. But the Indian pair fought back in incredible fashion to push the title contest into the decider against Malaysian eighth seeds Ong Yew Sin and Teo Ee Yi.

Satwik-Chirag crowned champions at Badminton Asia Championships
Satwik-Chirag crowned champions at Badminton Asia Championships

India’s Commonwealth Games champions were at a similar stage again, trailing 11-15 in the third game but Shetty and Rankireddy did not give up. Egged on by Mathias Boe, their ever-dependable coach sitting courtside, the sixth seeds battled again to seize the lead before going on to convert their third match point. They are the first Indian pair to become champions of Asia in the 61-year history of the tournament.

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By virtue of the 16-21, 21-17, 21-19 victory, Rankireddy and Shetty became only the second Indian winners at the prestigious tournament as only Dinesh Khanna – he won the men’s singles title in 1965 at Lucknow – had finished as champion.

“I am over the moon. Satwik and I worked really hard for this medal and I am happy we have finally won the title. I would like to thank everyone back home for supporting me,” said the 25-year-old Shetty.

The world No 6 Indians have been in terrific form since the Tokyo Olympics, having won the India Open and French Open last year on the BWF World Tour. They became the first Indian men’s doubles pair to claim the Commonwealth Games gold and a bronze at the World Championships. They were also critical in India’s gold-medal winning Thomas Cup campaign last year.

It is their second title in 2023, having also claimed the Swiss Open crown in Basel in March, which was the first title of the year for Indian shuttlers.

“I am grateful for all the support we got during this championships. It’s a great feeling to win this tournament for the first time; I am sure we will win more such titles in the future. We will continue to work hard to bring laurels to the country,” said Rankireddy, 22.

In a game of contrasting styles – Indian attack versus Malaysian defence – Shetty and Rankireddy started with some ferocious shots to get into rhythm and the match went neck-and-neck till 13-all. But the Indian pair lost momentum and the world No. 8 Ong and Teo cashed in on their mistakes to take the first game.

The Malaysians carried their momentum into the second game as they took a 13-7 lead and it appeared all but over for Shetty and Rankireddy. But the Indian pair didn't lose hope and made a strong comeback before winning the game to level the contest. “After 13-7 we tried to play a little smarter. Service was one thing that worked really well for us; it took them by surprise. We were also a lot calmer while defending as well,” said Shetty.

The third game was again topsy-turvy and looked like it was going in favour of the Malaysians, who won bronze at the 2021 World Championships, as they led 15-11. But the Indians’ never-say-die attitude helped them claw back before reaching 20-17 and converting their third championship point after an epic battle that lasted an hour and seven minutes.

“Today we didn’t play, the crowd played with us. It was a bad start in the first game and half of the second, but we didn’t give up. We held our nerves; we know how to play in these situations. So, we were waiting for the good rhythm and then took our chances. We were calmer in the second and third games,” said Rankireddy, who hails from Amalapuram in Andhra Pradesh.

“Personally, it will take a lot of time to believe that we are the Asian champions. I still don’t believe we are Thomas Cup champions. It’s our dream to win for India and make the flag fly high. Good boost for us as we go into the Olympic qualification period.”

The Badminton Association of India (BAI) announced a reward of Rs. 20 lakh.

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    From badminton to cricket, Sandip Sikdar writes on many sporting disciplines. He has the experience of working in digital, news agency as well as print organisations. Motorsport remains his first love.

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