Malaysia rallies to beat India 3-2 at 2019 Sudirman Cup

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Lee Zii Jia produces resilient play under pressure. (photo: AFP)
Lee Zii Jia produces resilient play under pressure. (photo: AFP)

Nanning: Malaysian players bounced back from their opening-match defeat to China with a 3-2 win over India on Tuesday to keep alive their hopes of a quarter-final place at the 2019 Sudirman Cup.

World No. 13 mixed doubles pair Goh Soon Huat/Shevon Jemie Lai got Malaysia off to something that looked like a promising start before losing two match points to World No. 27 Satwiksairaj Rankireddy/Ashwini Ponnappa 21-16, 17-21, 22-24 in a 70-minutes battle.

It was also Satwiksairaj Rankireddy/Ashwini Ponnappa who won their match that help India beat Malaysia for their first Commonwealth Games mixed team gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

In general, Malaysian players tend to have weak mental strength by losing tight matches during crunch time. For example, the 1982 World Cup Badminton final between Misbun Sidek and Liem Swie King; the London Olympic men’s singles final between Lee Chong Wei and Lin Dan; the Rio Olympic men’s doubles final between Goh V Shem/Tan Wee Kiong and Fu Haifeng/Zhang Nan, with the latest incident happened just two days ago when Aaron Chia/Soh Wooi Yik lost a match point opportunity to go down 21-18, 14-21, 22-24 in the 2019 Sudirman Cup tie between Malaysia and China. The Malaysian coaches should really work on this problem that has been haunted Malaysian players since the 80’s.

Lee Zii Jia then emerged as a savior when he beat World No. 13, Sameer Verma of India 21-13, 21-15 in 48 minutes to level the score at 1-1.

No one knows what had happened to India’s World No. 9 men’s singles Kidambi Srikanth. Because, on Wednesday’s tie against China, India will continue to play Sameer Verma against Chen Long.

In the third match, Malaysia’s women’s singles player Goh Jin Wei whom just returned from injury, could not find her rhythm against World No. 5 PV Sindhu of India, as Goh went down 12-21, 8-21.

Meanwhile, India will let World No. 9 Saina Nehwal face World No. 3 Chen Yufei of China on Wednesday.

Next up, Malaysia’s scratch men’s doubles pair Aaron Chia/Teo Ee Yi kept their team’s comeback hopes alive by sending the tie to the decider when they survived a tough challenge from World No. 24 Attri Manu/Reddy B. Sumeeth of India with a 22-20, 21-19 victory in 37 minutes.

World No. 13 women’s doubles pair, Chow Mei Kuan/Lee Meng Yean of Malaysia kept their cool and withstood the pressure to ultimately prevail in a thrilling fifth match against World No. 25 Ashwini Ponnappa/Reddy N. Sikki as the Chow/Lee won 21-11, 21-19 in 42 minutes.

This victory also allowed Malaysian to exact revenge from their defeat to India at last year’s Commonwealth Games mixed team event final. Unless India beat the badminton powerhouse China on Wednesday, otherwise, Malaysia and China will be advancing to the quarter-finals.

After giving No. 1 seed a huge scare in the opener, Russia continued to demonstrate their underlying strength in men’s doubles and men’s singles, as they forced Thailand to dig deep before losing to Thailand 2-3 in the Group 1A tie.

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