India’s top men’s doubles pair Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty won gold after beating the Malaysian pair of Ong Yew Sin and Teo Ee Yi 16-21, 21-17, 21-19 in the final at the Badminton Asia Championships in Dubai on Sunday.
There was little to separate the two pairs as the opening game started on an even note.
From 1-1 to 10-10, the two moved neck and neck before a hurried shot at the net by Chirag gave the Malaysians a one-point lead at the break.
The Malaysian duo ran up a series of points to quickly eke out a commanding five-point lead at 18-13. Chirag broke the run but Ong and Teo grabbed six game points when Satwik went long.
The Indians saved two before the Malaysians won an exciting rally with Teo diving twice to keep the shuttle in play to earn the bragging rights.
After the change of ends, Ong and Teo continued their impressive run, moving to 6-2 early on before zooming to 10-4.
The Malaysians were relentless in their approach as Satwik and Chirag failed to match up to their rivals, allowing the Malaysians to enter the mid-game break with a 11-6 lead.
Ong and Tea maintained a five-point lead at 13-8 before the Indian pair scripted a recovery. Satwik produced a backhand kill followed by a net error from Teo, who also sent the shuttler out, as soon the tables turned.
The Indians were 18-15 up as errors crept into the Malaysians game. Satwik and Chirag earned three game points and converted it on the first chance with Teo committing an error at the net.
The decider started with the two pairs trading blows. Ong and Teo showed great technical acumen as they slowly eked out a three-point lead at 8-5.
With Chirag spraying his smash into the net and following it up with another, the Malaysians grabbed an 11-8 lead at the break.
The opponents injected power and produced a few body shots to open up a 14-10 lead.
The Indians narrowed it down to 14-15 with Chirag dominating a fast exchange before drawing level. Following a net error from Ong, Satwik and Chirag went 17-16 up.
Ong then sent one wide as the Indians moved to 18-16. A great interception from the Malaysians was followed by a precise return from Chirag as it was 19-17 in India’s favour.
A booming smash from the back from Chirag took India to three championship points. They squandered two before Satwik unleashed a body smash at Teo as Chirag lay flat on the court and Satwik broke into a celebratory dance.
Satwik-Chirag had become the first Indian duo since Dinesh Khanna in singles in 1965 to enter the final of the continental badminton event. The Indian duo had themselves assured a medal after 52 years in the men’s doubles category when they got the better of Indonesia’s experienced duo Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan in straight games 21-11, 21-12 in the quarterfinals.
Satwik and Chirag bagged the second gold for India in this mega event. Apart from the gold won by Dinesh Khanna, India have won 17 bronze medals in various categories in the Badminton Asia Championships since 1962. Satwik and Chirag, who won the bronze medal in Men’s Doubles at the 2022 World Championships in Tokyo, have claimed two bronze medals in the Asian Team Championships (2016, 2020).
The gold medal at the Asian Badminton Championships is the biggest medal in their career. The Indian duo have won five titles on the BWF World Tour and have twice finished runners-up.
India have now won two gold medals in the Asian Championships since it was initiated in 1962 — Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty in men’s doubles in 2023 with the other gold being won by Dinesh Khanna in men’s singles in 1965.
The Indian duo had sealed a spot in the summit clash after their opponents, the Tokyo Olympic champions Chinese Taipei’s Lee Yang and Wang Chi-lin, retired midway through the second game of their semifinal clash. The 22-year-old Satwiksairaj Rankireddy from Amalapuram in Andhra Pradesh and the 25-year-old Mumbai-born Chirag Shetty had won the first game 21-18 and were going neck-and-neck with their Chinese Taipei opponents at 13-14 when Lee Yang and Wang Chi-lin withdrew, giving them a walkover.
The Indian duo opened the tournament with a win over the Malaysian team of Tan Kian Meng and Tan Wee Kiong 21-14, 21-17. They then got the better of the South Korean unit of Jin Yong and Na Sung Seung 21-13, 21-11 in the round of 16. India’s top doubles duo faced Indonesians Mohammed Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan in the quarters, who they managed to brush aside 21-11, 21-12.
Other top Indian players PV Sindhu, HS Prannoy and Kidambi Srikanth had lost in earlier stages in their respective sections.
(With inputs from Agencies)