Defending champion Indonesia turned to its best doubles pair of Marcus Gideon and Kevin Sakamuljo to outlast India, 3-2, and clinch its place in the Finals of the 2020 SMART Badminton Asia Manila Team Championship, Saturday at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum.
The world no. 1 tandem, affectionately called “The Minions”, showed that they have the skills, dominating Lakshya Sen and Chirag Shetty in just 24 minutes of action, 21-6, 21-13.
The 2019 Southeast Asian Games men’s team champions led twice in the tie at 1-0 and 2-1, with Anthony Ginting and Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan getting the wins.
Ginting took the win over B. Sai Praneeth, who was forced to retire in the second game due to a pulled hamstring.
Ahsan and Setiawan then had to fend off M. R. Arjun and Dhruv Kapila in the deciding frame to take the lead again, 21-10, 14-21, 23-21.
Sen earlier leveled the tie with a win over Jonatan Christie in the second singles match at 21-18, 22-20. Subhankar Dey then forced the decider, taking down Shesar Rhustavito, 21-17, 21-15.
“Actually, once you are in the match you’ll never know what will happen, but it is unexpected that our second singles lost,” Indonesian doubles coach Herry Peirngadi said.
“Because this is already the final. We have no choice, I guess, but to put the best of the best to make sure that we still win the championship game.”
Fellow Southeast Asian powerhouse Malaysia flexed its muscles against the short-handed Japanese squad and completed the sweep at 3-0.
Cheam June Wei shook off a stunning second-set blowout loss, 3-21, against Kenta Nishimoto, eventually sealing the finals ticket for the Malaysians at 21-12 in the third set, following up his tight 21-19 win in the first frame.
Reigning SEA Games singles champion Lee Zii Jia started the rout with an impressive 21-11, 8-21, 21-11 marathon against Kanta Tsuneyama in the opening singles match.
Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik made it 2-0 with a 21-18, 21-15 conquest of Takuro Hoki and Yugo Kobayashi.
Indonesia will stake its crown against regional rival Malaysia on Sunday, February 16, at 4 p.m.
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