The men’s doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty were the only ones to win their match as India went down 1-4 to Asian powerhouse China in their last Group C match of the Thomas Cup Finals here on Thursday.
With both India and China qualifying for the quarter-finals, the match was important to decide who tops the group and thus plays a comparatively weaker opponent. China, as expected, clinched the first position in the group and they did not with consummate ease barring the lone hiccup in the men’s doubles.
The defeat to China and second place in the group means India will meet hosts Denmark in the quarter-finals on Friday. Denmark topped Group B by winning all three of their matches, with World No 2 Viktor Axelsen leading them from the front. China will meet Thailand, Indonesia will take on Malaysia and South Korea will play Japan in other quarter-final matches.
On Thursday, Kidambi Srikanth started the proceedings for India against World No 10 Shi Yu Qi in the first singles. Srikanth fought well on some points but the Chinese did not give him many chances and emerged winner 21-12, 21-16.
Rankireddy and Shetty were up next and levelled the scores with a 21-14, 21-14 win against He Ji Ting and Zhou Hao Dong, using their experience and stronger combination to good effect against the Chinese pair. The Indians are ranked 10th in the world while He Ji Ting and Zhou Hao Dong are not a regular pair on the circuit and had played together in the last match against the Netherlands.
Sameer Verma raised hopes of giving India the lead when he won the first game against Lu Guang Zu before the Chinese came back to win the match 14-21, 21-9, 24-22.
Down 1-2, India lost the rubber when the men’s doubles pair of MR Arjun and Dhruv Kapila lost a close encounter to Liu Cheng and Wang Yi Lyu 24-26, 19-21. China made it 4-1 when Li Shi Feng defeated Kiran George 21-15, 21-17 in 43 minutes to seal victory.