Lakshya Sen outsmarted reigning world champion Loh Kean Yew as the Indian badminton team showed their might to blank Singapore 3-0 and enter the mixed team final at the Commonwealth Games on Monday.
The men’s doubles pairing of Satwiksairaj Reddy and Chirag Shetty gave India the lead in the semifinal with a 21-11, 21-12 win over Yong Kai Terry Hee and Andu Jun Kian Kwek.
Two-time Olympic medallist P V Sindhu was clinical against 19th-ranked Jia Min Yeo for a 21-11, 21-12 result to extend India’s lead to 2-0.
The third match between Sen and Loh was the most anticipated rubber of the semifinal with the 10th-ranked Indian facing the ninth-ranked Singaporean.
Sen, who extended his head to head count over Loh to 4-2, took his chances against the Singaporean and succeeded more often than not. The Indian used his booming forehand to upset Loh’s rhythm. Sen started slow as Loh took a 4-0 lead in the first game.
He bounced back to make it 6-6 after a long really, with Loh not sure whether to leave it or hit it.
The Indian went into the break with a slender 11-10 advantage and made it 14-10 with two unforced errors from Loh’s racket. He followed up with a powerful smash on Loh’s forehand and made it 16-10.
Loh narrowed the gap, but Sen managed to go 1-0 up in the match after the Singaporean found the net.
The second game too was a tough battle, but Sen always maintained the lead and closed out the match.
“It was a good match against him. I knew what to expect today. The plan worked today. Really happy that India is in the final again,” Sen said after the match and also thanking a vociferous Indian crowd at the NEC arena.
Earlier, Sindhu was always in control against Yeo. She led 11-6 at the first game interval. A drop shot winner after a long rally made it 13-7. It was followed by a body smash on Yeo for 16-8. Too many unforced errors were committed by Yeo.
The second game too was smooth for Sindhu who raised her hands in the air after Yeo pushed a service wide on match point.
Rankireddy and Shetty also thanked the crowd after the first match.
“It was a really important match. We felt the goosebumps everytime they chanted India India,” said Shetty.