Saturday March 23, 2013
Badminton: Daren and Jing Yi a big letdown in draw against Thailand at US$1mil Axiata Cup
By KNG ZHENG GUAN
SURABAYA: Malaysia’s weakness in mixed team events was painfully exposed as they could only draw 2-2 with Thailand in the US$1mil Axiata Cup here yesterday.
And it was the singles – both the men’s and women’s – that let Malaysia down.
World No. 51 Tee Jing Yi was handed a tough task in the first match, taking on All England runner-up Ratchanok Inthanon.
To her credit though, Jing Yi gave it a good fight before going down 17-21, 20-22 to the Thai teenager.
Liew Daren, however, was a big disappointment in the men’s singles as he had trouble finding his feet against Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk.
The KL shuttler never looked comfortable against the lanky Thai and committed far too many errors in a meek 15-21, 17-21 defeat.
That put mixed pair Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying under intense pressure to deliver against world No. 6 Sudket Prapakamol-Saralee Thoungthongkam.
The Malaysians had lost to the Thai pair in their last three meetings.
But this time Peng Soon-Liu Ying delivered an excellent performance to win 20-22, 21-14, 21-14 before men’s pair Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong rescued the tie by beating Boonsak Ponsana-Songphonm Anugritayawon 21-13, 21-14.
National singles head coach Rashid Sidek prefers to look at the draw as a positive result.
“We knew Thailand were strong, and without (Lee) Chong Wei, a draw is quite a good result,” said Rashid.
“The downside was that Daren was too defensive against Tanongsak, who was excellent at the net.
“But there were some positives from the match, such as Jing Yi’s performance and the team’s fighting spirit.”
Malaysia, however, will definitely need to step it up a notch if they aim to gain anything when they take on hosts and defending champions Indonesia today.
The Indonesians were on fire as they whipped high-flying Singapore 4-0 in an earlier match.
“They are the hosts and definitely have the advantage. They also have more options in their line-up ... but I believe we can get something from that match,” said Rashid.
Earlier, Indonesia team manager Bambang Roedyanto warned Malaysia that they’ll be looking for a win.
“Malaysia will be a strong challenge but we are more than ready to face them. We want to win,” he said.
In other matches, Asia All Star bounced back from an opening day loss to the Thais by beating the Philippines 4-0.
The Europe All Stars also regained their winning ways – beating Vietnam 3-1.