Sri Lankan shuttlers posing for photographs after winning the silver medal in the men’s team event during the 13th South Asian Games in Pokhara, Nepal on Monday. Sri Lanka lost to India 3-1 in the final at the Badminton Covered Hall in Pokhara. Sri Lanka is fielding a strong team, including 10 male and an equal number of female shuttlers at the 10-day event
By Naushad Amit in Nepal
The Sri Lanka men’s and women’s teams secured silver medals in the badminton team event after falling to India in the finals at the 13th South Asian Games at City Hall in Pokhara, Nepal yesterday.
The Sri Lanka men went down fighting 3-1 in the team final against India while the women’s team was defeated in straight sets despite putting up a brave fight. Sri Lanka made a winning start when men’s Skipper Dinuka Karunaratne recorded a morale-boosting 2-1 win against Srikanth Kidambi in the Singles.
Kidambi stunned Karunaratne by taking the first set 21-17, but the seasoned Lankan shutter finished the task he was assigned by defeating his Indian opponent with set scores of 21-15 and 21-11. The Lankans were further bolstered by Sachin Dias, who won the first set 21-17, and set up a winning start in the second Singles against Sai Varma. Dias was comfortably leading in the second set despite suffering a minor injury scare and eventually conceded the game to Varma, while still leading it 11-5.
The perfect doubles combination of Sachin Dias and Buwaneka Goonathilake too continued their successful collaboration for Sri Lanka as the duo implemented a brilliant game plan before losing the first set to Arun George and Sanyam Shukla 18-21. But the Lankan duo retaliated with their usual pattern of play to win the second set 21-14, levelling the game and taking it to the wire. However, the Indians too were unwilling to be easily outplayed, as they gave the Lankan duo a torrid time in the deciding set. Eventually the Indians won the game 2-1 after claiming the third set 21-11.
The Sri Lankan duo of Karunaratne and Hasitha Chanaka were featured in the second Doubles battle against Krishna Prasad Garanga and Kapila Dhruv, in a crucial game that would decide the fate of the final outcome. The Indian team played to a plan which would eventually push them past their Lankan counterparts, with the final scores reading 21-14 and 21-18, helping them secure the gold medal with an outcome of 3-1, forcing their opponents from the subcontinent to settle for a silver medal. The third Singles between Ranthushka Sasindu and Tondon Arymana was not played.
In the women’s team event final, India recorded a straightforward 3-0 win, despite the Lankan women putting up a stern fight. Ashmitha Chalitha handed a straightforward 2-0 defeat to Thilini Hendahewa, who battled fiercely before losing 21-12 and 21-13 in the first Singles. Dilmi Dias too experienced a similar fate against Aakarshi Kashyap, who sealed the second Singles 2-0 with scores of 21-19 and 21-10. Skipper Achini Ratnasiri managed to hold her opponent Gayatri Gopichand in the third Singles by claiming the first set 21-13. But the more experienced Indian bounced back to secure the remaining two sets with scores of 21-18 and 21-10, to win the game 2-1 and seal the gold medal for India. Sri Lanka had to settle for the silver medal, as the remaining two Doubles games, which were to feature Thilini Hendahewa and Kavindi Sirimannage in one game and Achini Ratnasiri and Upuli Samanthika in the other, were not played.
Earlier in the semi-final rounds, women’s team skipper Ratnasiri, Dilmi Dias and Hendahewa easily won their semi-final matches against their Nepali opponents, while the men’s combination of Sachin Dias, Buwaneka Goonathilake and skipper Dinuka Karunaratne secured wins for their country to advance to the next stage. Dias recorded his second win in the men’s semi-final while Ranthushka Sasindu recorded the only defeat the Sri Lankan team suffered.
After the completion of the team events, the individual events kicked off from the pre-quarter-final stage with both skippers Karunaratne and Ratnasiri paving the way to victory for others to follow. Karunaratne recorded a comfortable 2-0 victory against Salman Khan of Bangladesh with set scores of 21-10 and 21-7, while Ratnasiri overcame Nepal’s Rashila Maharja 2-0 with set scores of 21-15 and 21-19, to reach the quarterfinals in the men’s and women’s singles respectively. Dias will join her skipper in the women’s line-up after her win against Nabeeha Aminath of the Maldives by 2-0 with set scores of 21-6 and 21-14.
Sachin Dias and Buwaneka Goonathilake defeated Bangladesh’s Abdul Hamid Luckman and Gourab Singha 21-15 and 21-18.
Besides the singles events of the men’s and women’ segments, the men’s doubles and mixed doubles preliminary round also began yesterday.