India’s top men’s doubles pair Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty became the first Indian duo since Dinesh Khanna in singles in 1965 to enter the final of the Badminton Asia Championships here on Saturday.
The Indian duo 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 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.
Chirag and Satwik are the lone Indians remaining in the fray in the Asian Championships after the other top players P.V. Sindhu, H.S. Prannoy and Kidambi Srikanth lost in earlier stages in their respective sections.
India have thus far won only one gold in the Asian Championships since it was initiated in 1962 — the gold won by Dinesh Khanna in men’s singles in 1965.
Satwik and Chirag will be hoping to bag 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).
Whatever medal they win on Sunday will be the biggest medal in their career. The Indian duo have won five titles on the BWF World Tour and have twice finished runners-up.