Badminton: Valiant Srikanth wages grim battle but loses to Lin Dan

NetIndian News Network

Rio de Janeiro, August 17, 2016

India's Kidambi Srikanth waged a grim battle before going down to two-time defending champion Lin Dan of China 6-21, 21-11,18-21 in the quarter-finals  of the Olympic Men’s Badminton competition here today.
In a 68-minute thriller, the script kept changing dramatically as Lin Dan toyed with the Indian in the first game, which he wrapped up in 16 minutes, and it looked as if the quarter final was going to be  a virtual no contest.
The Indian, who had not dropped a single game in his three previous matches here, strangely looked totally off colour and tentative. He was hardly was in the game as Dan toyed with him. The Chinese firmly stationed himself in the middle of his side of the court, kept spraying returns, shots and volleys, making the Indian  run all over.
The defending champion took an 11-1 lead in no time and  then though Srikanth retrieved some ground by collecting five more points but that  was all he could do in this game which Dan closed at 21-6.
But the oft-quoted maxim that no match is over till it is over was proved right by Srikanth who stunned his childhood hero with a dream fightback in the second round.
If in the first the Indian looked like a novice against the World champion, the second saw a totally transformed Srikanth who  made his much fancied rival look an ordinary player. He surged to a 3-0 lead and then made it 7-4.
Dan had problem holding his balance and slipped a few times and requested the judge to get the court swabbed again.
However, it made no difference as the Indian came up with some brilliant counter attack as he took the lead to 16-9 and clinched the game 21-11 to draw parity as Dan dropped a game only for the third time in as many Olympic appearances.
It was in the third and deciding game that the Indian and his supporters suffered a heart break. 
The  decider was a nerve wracking thriller as Srikanth had Lin  scampering all over the court, and held him 7-7 before the Chinese regained his nerves and rhythm and came up with some fierce smashes to go up 13-11. Though the Indian tried hard to keep the Chinese away, he faltered at the end
The  Chinese  overpowered him with  powerful  smashes to move into the semi-finals by claiming the decider at  21-18.
The loss now leaves the crushing burden of a medal finish for India in badminton on P.V. Sindhu, who will play her semi-final match on Thursday.
Srikanth had been in stellar form at the Olympics, pulling off a win over world No. 5 Jan O Jorgensen in straight games in the pre-quarterfinals.
 “I changed tactics. It worked well in the second but you can’t always repeat it. I was leading in the third game also, but a few simple mistakes,” Srikanth  said after the match
 “I shouldn’t have gone for a smash at 17-19. At crucial stages I don’t think experience really matters, that smash was the game-changer," he said.
“Had I kept it simple, it would have been 18-19. Again a pressure situation, but giving him that point made it 17-20 where he was in a better position than me. Those simple mistakes at 14-14 and  then at 15-16 proved expensive," he said.
The Indian said, "We just wanted to give our best in the second game. We didn’t really want to lose so badly, so we thought of being as aggressive as possible. Think that the game is only of 11 points. It really worked," he said.
He, however, asserted that there "wasn’t any special strategy. We just wanted to be aggressive and not commit simple mistakes. Overall there wasn’t any special strategy, but to just stay in the rally."
He admitted that it was tough to go with a plan against players of such standing. "You can’t really plan anything against these kinds of players," he said.
The Indian said he was satisfied with his  game. “I was never unhappy with the way I was playing, I was always playing well, it’s just that I couldn’t win or finish off matches well," he added.