Sameer Verma suffered a shocking straight-game loss in men’s singles on Tuesday as India were stunned 2-3 by a young Malaysia in a group 1D match to jeopardise their hopes of reaching the knockout stage of the Sudirman Cup mixed team championship. Mixed doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Ashwini Ponnappa produced a brilliant performance to outdo Malaysia’s Goh Soon Huat and Lai Shevon Jemie 16-21 21-17 24-22 in an hour and 10-minute opening match to give India a 1-0 lead.
But India’s decision to field world no 13 Sameer instead of Kidambi Srikanth in men’s singles backfired as the former couldn’t get going against Lee Zii Jia, losing 13-21 15-21 in 48 minutes to allow Malaysia level the scores 1-1. Olympic and world championship silver medallist P V Sindhu then steamrolled Goh Jin Wei 21-12 21-8 in 35 minutes to bring India back on track but doubles pair of Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy lost narrowly 20-22 19-21 to Aaron Chia and Teo Ee Yi.
With India and Malaysia level at 2-2, Ashwini once again took the court — two hours after her mixed doubles match — alongwith N Sikki Reddy but the women’s doubles pair couldn’t get across the world no 13 pair of Chow Mei Kuan and Lee Meng Yean, losing 11-21 19-21. Eighth seeded India’s hopes will now rest on their next match when they take on the mighty China Wednesday.
China boosts of All England champion Chen Yufei and world no 2 Shi Yuqi besides three formidable doubles pairs — all figuring the world’s top 10 and it will take a miraculous effort from India to overcome the 10-time champions. India had reached the quarterfinals in the 2011 and 2017 editions of the Sudirman Cup.