Badminton: Malaysia come from behind to stun India 3-2 to stay in Sudirman Cup hunt

Malaysia's Chow Mei Kuan and Lee Meng Yean (in blue) against India's Ashwini Ponnappa and N. Sikki Reddy at the Sudirman Cup 2019. PHOTO: BWF - BADMINTON WORLD FEDERATION/FACEBOOK

SHANGHAI (AFP) - A gutsy young Malaysian side missing ailing legend Lee Chong Wei recovered from 2-1 down to beat India 3-2 on Tuesday (May 21) and all but qualify for badminton's Sudirman Cup quarter-finals.

Chow Mei Kuan and Lee Meng Yean were the heroes for Malaysia in Nanning, Guangxi after winning the final-rubber women's doubles.

They were 19-15 down to Ashwini Ponnappa and N. Sikki Reddy in the second game, but roared back to win 21-11, 21-19 and take their team to the cusp of the quarters.

India will now need to somehow beat hosts and strongly fancied China to progress at Malaysia's expense.

"It's quite a big win, we fought well as a team," said a relieved Chow.

"It was two-all (in the tie overall) and important to win, and our coach told us to enjoy our match.

"In the second game they changed their tactics and attacked more, but we just kept our patience and got used to the change."

The Malaysians are competing in the prestigious mixed-team world championship without their talisman Lee.

The 36-year-old former No. 1 has been out since being diagnosed last year with early-stage nose cancer. But despite resuming training and trying to regain his fitness, his career looks to be drawing to a sad conclusion.

In his absence, Lee Zii Jia, the 21-year-old ranked 20th in the world, is representing Malaysia in the men's singles.

"This is a team event and I had to take responsibility and win, and I'm proud of it," he said after defeating 13th-ranked Sameer Verma 21-13, 21-15 to level the tie after India won the opening mixed doubles.

India then regained the lead when P.V. Sindhu overwhelmed Goh Jin Wei 21-12, 21-8 in the women's singles before Malaysia brought it back to all-square by taking the men's doubles.

India have the daunting task of needing to defeat 10-time champions China on Wednesday to stay alive.

China thrashed Malaysia 5-0 on Sunday to underline the kind of upset India require.

"We played Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan at the Asian Games, it was a close second game," said Reddy, sizing up her Chinese doubles opponents.

"We have an idea of how they play. It's their court, we have nothing to lose."

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