Towards the end of day 2, Indian women shuttlers failed to counter a tough South Korean challenge in women’s team badminton. The spirited Korean girls, backed enthusiastically by the crowd defeated India 3-1 to enter the final. Indians will have to remain content with a bronze. Squash brought some cheer to the Indians as Dipika Pallikal won a bronze and Saurav Ghosal entered the final and at least a silver medal is assured. In men’s hockey, India trounced Sri Lanka 8-0 but in women’s football, Thailand steamrolled India 10-0. There was further disappointment for India’s men in basketball, in which the team lost to Saudi Arabia 67-73 in the qualifying round itself. After cornering some glory on the first day and winning a bronze medal on day 2, the rest of the Indian shooters could only paint a picture of hopelessness. Many shooters, who won medals in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, failed to emulate their performance in Incheon.
Day 3 did not bring many medals to India. Even in sports, where Indians were expected to deliver a good show, Indian men and women performed below par. India’s women are rated quite highly in BWF badminton rankings but they lost to South Korea after their spirited performance against Thailand yesterday. Saina Nehwal was the lone Indian to win her match in the India-South Korea semifinal. Nehwal put India ahead 1-0 after beating South Korea’s Sung Jihyun, 21-12, 10-21, 21-9. But highly rated PV Sindhu was not at her best as she lost the second match against Yeon ju Bae. Showing only rare flashes of brilliance peppered with too many avoidable errors, Sindhu lost to the Korean girl 21-14, 18-21, 13-21. In the doubles, India’s Pradnya Gadre and N. Sikki Reddy ranked 58 in the world, took on the South Korean pair of Kim Soyeong and Chang Yena, who are world no. 6. Gadre and Reddy found it difficult against the superiority of the Korean pair and lost their match 16-21, 17-21 to allow South Korea a 2-1 lead in this women’s badminton semi-final. The next tie was a singles match between India’s PC Thulasi and South Korea’s Kim Hyomin. This was a crunch game for India as their hopes rested on Thulasi winning the match. As fate would have it, that didn’t happen as Thulasi suffered a crushing 12-21, 8-21 defeat against the 18-year old South Korean. With this match, South Korea entered the final leaving the Indian women thoroughly dejected though they won the bronze.
India’s squash queen Dipika Pallikal was one unlucky girl. Her bracket of draw included a quarterfinal clash with compatriot Joshna Chinappa, whom she defeated. But in the semifinal she was drawn to meet world No.1 Nicol David of Malaysia. David is the most talented squash player, who has already won more gold medals than she can count. She has four golds in Asian games alone since Bangkok 1998. Three of these golds were in singles and one as a team gold. She won singles silver in Busan 2002. On day 3 Dipika was no match to David, losing tamely to the awfully talented David 4-11, 4 11, 5-11. But in man’s individual event, Saurav Ghosal did India proud by entering the finals. India is assured of at least a silver from Ghosal. The world No.16 Indian defeated 2006 champion and world No. 35 Malaysian Ong Beng Hee 11-9 11-4 11-5 in 45 minutes on the glass court of Yeorumul Squash Courts.
India’s shooters continued their run as India bagged two more bronze to boost the medal tally to six on the third day. Women’s pistol trio of Rahi Sarnobat, Anisa Sayyed and Heena Sindhu claimed a bronze in the 25m team event. But elsewhere there was disappointment as woman shooter Ayonika Paul made the 10m finals but got eliminated after the 12th shot to finish seventh with 101.9.
India are also assured of at least two bronze medals in Wushu from Thoudam Sanathoi Devi and Narendra Grewal. Both Sanathoi Devi and Grewal entered the semifinals in their events. Sanathoi beat Amgalanjargal Sangidorj of Mongolia in a 2-0 ‘Win By Round’ (WBR) verdict in a dominating performance in her Sanda 52kg category quarterfinal while Grewal beat Pakistan’s Abdullah in the men’s Sanda 60kg quarterfinal also in an identical 2-0 ‘Win By Round’ (WBR) verdict.
Except Pallikal and Ghosal’s performance in squash, overall it was a disappointing day for India. Men’s football and tennis teams have crashed out of the competition. However, India’s women’s hockey team began promisingly by outplaying Thailand 3-0.
With just two bronze medals on day 3, India slipped to the 13th in the overall tally with one gold and five bronzes. China lead the pack with 58 medals (26-14-18), followed by hosts South Korea 45 (14-15-16) and Japan 42 (13-13-16).