India at Asian Games 2018, Day 5: Shardul the silver lining on day of heartbreaks

India won just three medals on its most disappointing day at 2018 Asian Games so far.

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You win some, you lose some. But not when it came to kabaddi in Asian Games. Since 1990, when kabaddi was introduced at Asiad, India have always won the gold medal. 

Not this time.  

India suffered their biggest upset of 2018 Asian Games when the men's kabaddi team lost to Iran in the semifinals to settle for bronze medal. 

While the end of 28-year-old reign in kabaddi was biggest of heartbreak on India's most disappointing day at the Games so far, a 15-year-old was the silver lining.  

Shardul Vihan became India's youngest player to win a medal in shooting at Asian Games. 

With just three medals (and no gold) added to the tally on Thursday, India slipped to 10th in the medal table. We ended the day with four gold, four silver and 10 bronze for a total of 18 medals.

Shardul shoots silver

Shardul Vihan, with his double trap silver, became the youngest Indian shooter to win a medal at the Asian Games.

The Meerut-based Vihan shot 73 in the final after topping the qualification earlier in the day. 
The gold went to 34-year-old South Korean Hyunwoo Shin and bronze to 42-year-old from Qatar, Hamad Ali Al Marri.

"Sir (coach Mansher Singh) ne bola, kal sab tere se badi umar ke honge. Chad ke khelna (all competitors will be a lot older to you, just shoot fearless and they will be wary of you). I just did that," said the child prodigy.

Kabaddi shocker

While Shardul's feat was definitely the highlight for India, the kabaddi team produced a stunningly abysmal performance in an unexpected low point of the day.

Ajay Thakur and his men were left wide-eyed in shock as two-time runners-up Iran finally got the better of India with a gladiatorial performance at Theatre Garuda.

The fact that it's a sport indigenous to the country only adds to the humiliation and perhaps some soul-searching would be in order given that crores had been pumped into creating the Pro-Kabaddi League, complete with some Bollywood stars as team owners.

"We lost the match due to the captain's over confidence, injury played a part, and super tackle," dejected India coach Ram Mehar Singh said after the shocking defeat.

At least, the women made it to the final without much ado. They will face Iran in the gold-medal clash.

Disappointments: Archery, Rowing and Weightling

Archery continued to throw up disappointments. 

Deepika Kumari, the former world number one, flopped yet again at the big stage on a depressing day for India's recurve archers, whose challenge ended at the Games.

Only Atanu Das managed to reach the quarterfinals while the other three fell by the wayside at the preliminary stages. Das lost his quarterfinal 3-7 to Indonesia's Riau Ega Agata Salsa Billa.

There was heartbreak in weightifting too. 

Ajay Singh finished a creditable fifth with a personal best effort but senior compatriot and Commonwealth Games gold-medallist Sathish Sivalingam got injured during the men's 77kg category competition.

Sathish, who holds the national record of 339kg, suffered a thigh injury during a failed attempt of 178 kg in clean and jerk to eventually lift a total of 314kg (144kg + 170kg).

The Indian rowing contingent had a disastrous day too, missing out on as many as four medals including in fancied events like men's single sculls and double sculls in Palembang.

Gold contender Dattu Bhokanal was a major disappointment as he finished sixth and last in the single sculls final, clocking 8:28.56. He was consistently within the seven-minute mark in the run-up to the Games and his performance even in the Heats was nowhere close to his below par effort on Thursday.

Positives: Tennis, Squash and Badminton

It was a good day for India in ratchet sports. 

Ankita Raina opened India's account in tennis at 2018 Asian Games with a bronze medal in women's singles. Ankita played her heart out against top seed Shuai Zhang before settling before bowing out.

Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan notched up a gritty win to enter the men's doubles final, putting India in strong contention for a gold on Friday. Bopanna and Sharan beat Japanese pair of Shimbakuro S and Uesugi Kaito 4-6, 6-3 10-8 in the semifinal.

Another tennis medal was assured when Prajnesh Gunneswaran outlasted Kwon Soonwoo of South Korea 6-7 (2 ), 6-4, 7-6 (8) in a marathon quarterfinal lasting almost four hours.

India were also assured of at least a bronze medal in the squash competition as the country's top ranked player Saurav Ghosal set up a quarterfinal clash with compatriot Harinder Pal Sandhu in the men's singles event.

Both Joshna Chinappa and Dipika Pallikal Karthik made it to the women's singles quarterfinals with facile wins.

In badminton, world championship silver medallist Sindhu faced stiff resistance from world number 52 Trang before prevailing 21-10 12-21 23-21 in a tough opening round. 

In contrast, Saina Nehwal just walked into the second round with a crushing 21-7 21-9 win over Iran's Soraya Aghhajiagha in just 26 minutes.

In swimming, national records were shattered but no medals came off the effort. Srihari Natraj twice bettered his in the 200m backstroke but could finish only sixth in the final while Virdhawal Khade ended last in the 50m butterfly.

A positive start was, however, made on the golf course where Aadil Bedi shot a bogey-free 69 that placed him and the Indian team tied second at the end of the first round. Bedi was one shot behind the reigning Australian Amateur champion, Keita Nakajima of Japan, one of the favourites.

(With PTI Inputs)

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