SINGAPORE - The opening group match of the Badminton Asia Team Championship saw powerhouses China narrowly escape with a 3-2 win against Singapore's male shuttlers on Monday.
The Republic's Derek Wong fell 11-21, 12-21 to Tian Houwei in the first singles at the Gachibowli Stadium in Hyderabad, India.
Momentum swung in Singapore's favour though as Loh Kean Hean and Terry Hee beat the 11-ranked doubles pair of Liu Xiaolong and Qiu Zihan 16-21, 21-13, 21-11 before SEA Games singles bronze medallist Kean Yew (Kean Hean's brother) beat world No. 11 Wang Zhengming 21-15, 21-16 to give Singapore a 2-1 lead.
The Chinese drew level thanks to Li Junhui and Liu Yuchen's 21-18, 21-14 victory over Danny Bawa Chrisnanta and Hendra Wijaya before Bin Qiao defeated Ryan Ng 21-15, 19-21, 21-13 in a tense rubber match that lasted 63 minutes.
Said Kean Yew, 18 and ranked 167th in the world: "We went into this game wanting to give China a good fight and we did much better than we expected. China has been a top badminton country.
"Seeing my brother and Terry win their doubles against a more experienced pair, gave me more confidence in playing my best.
"While I was playing, I noticed my opponent was quite nervous and I took advantage of them. The draft in the hall was quite strong and it made it hard to control the shots, which made him more nervous."
National chief coach Chua Yong Joo was delighted with his team's effort. He said: "Kean Yew, Terry and Kean Hean did very well to upset both their higher-ranked opponents. The players were fearless, especially the younger ones."
They next face host India on Wednesday in their final group game while their female counterparts open their campaign against Japan on Tuesday.
Noted Chua: "We will have to analyse what went right and wrong. India is also a very strong team. We will approach the tie like how we prepare ourselves against China."