of the match at the Musashino Forest Sport Plaza on Thursday, PV Sindhu had said that she would have to be aggressive against an opponent who had an aggressive style too. She was true to her word; the match was played at a fast tempo from the start, and stood out for the Indian’s brisk solidity and the Dane’s high-risk, error-strewn display.
The 23-year old Blichfeldt tried to peg Sindhu back early but ended up sending a few shuttles long, trying for too much to unsettle the Indian’s terrific court coverage. Making fewer errors than her opponent, PV Sindhu opened up a 10-5 lead when another Mia Blichfeldt shot sailed long in the forehand corner.
A crosscourt smash to Blichfeldt’s backhand forecourt gave Sindhu an 11-6 advantage going into the breather. Another lovely dipping crosscourt in the same area made it 12-6.
However, the 26-year old PV Sindhu seemed to now hold back a bit even as the Dane started to recover lost ground. Moving Sindhu right to the edge of the backhand corner, Blichfeldt finished off a couple of rallies with smashes to cut the deficit to 11-13.
PV Sindhu edged ahead again with a couple of netted shuttles from the Dane, who immediately hit back with down-the-line smashes on either side of the court to stay with Sindhu at 14-16. An exquisite Blichfeldt drop backhand made it 15-16, but she then tried two more difficult down-the-line smashes that went wide.
The Indian seized her chance with a near-body smash to set up five game points and immediately closed out the game 21-15.
A drawn-out rally kickstarted the second game in which Sindhu moved Blichfeldt around before unleashing a series of smashes. A long shuttle and a misjudgement from Blichfeldt ensured Sindhu raced to 5-0.
Blichfeldt hid her face in her t-shirt in frustration following a service error. PV Sindhu then came up with a brilliant crosscourt close to the forehand corner followed by a straight smash to maintain her lead at 9-4.
For most things the Dane came up with, Sindhu had a fitting response. The Indian was sent deep to the backhand corner again but regained position quickly and finished the point with a superb dipping crosscourt to head to the break at 11-6.
The errors wouldn’t cease from Blichfeldt as Sindhu continued to remain impenetrable at the net. The Dane’s challenge subsided in a flood of mistakes, giving PV Sindhu numerous game points at 20-11. She sealed it on her third to move into the quarters.
Kumar (43rd minute), Vivek Sagar Prasad (58th minute) and Harmanpreet Singh (59th minute) scored the goals for India. Maico Casella hit the board for Argentina in the 48th minute.
Manpreet Singh and his men were quick to attack in the match and came close when Simranjeet Singh’s pass to Dilpreet Singh inside the Argentinean D was saved by goalkeeper Juan Manuel Vivaldi.
The second quarter started with India putting pressure on the Argentine defence but the forwards struggled to convert, taking too much time and losing possession or going for early shots on some occasions.
In the 23rd minute, India’s Harmanpreet Singh led the attack but an early shot from the left wasted the opening.
The Indians were denied again in the 26th minute when a long pass from Nilakanta Sharma to Mandeep Singh, who stretched to find a deflection but found goalkeeper Juan Manuel Vivaldi in the way.
Argentina counter-attacked, led by Nahuel Salis, but Indian goalkeeper PR Sreejesh stood strong.
India earned two successive penalty corners in the 41st minute, but couldn’t convert. Soon enough, Argentina countered with Matias Rey, who was returning to the field after a five-minute suspension, going one-on-one with PR Sreejesh. The Indian goalkeeper, however, fended off the attack as Varun Kumar flicked the ball away.
A dangerous tackle on Indian forward Gurjant Singh on the circle got India another penalty in the 43rd minute through a successful video referral and this time debutant Varun Kumar found the Argentinean net to go 1-0 up.
In the last 20 seconds of the third quarter, Argentina defended four successive penalty corners.
In the final quarter, Argentina got their first penalty corner in the 48th minute and Maico Casella made no mistake to equalise. Argentina got their second penalty in the 53rd minute but Amit Rohidas averted the threat.
Three minutes before the final hooter, Dilpreet Singh’s dangerous pass at close range was shot by Vivek Sagar Prasad as the ball went in hitting Argentine goalkeeper Vivaldi’s stick to get a 2-1 lead.
Harmanpreet Singh’s flawless drag flick got India their third goal in the 59th minute.
India are currently second in their group after four matches with nine points, only behind world No. 2 Australia (12 points). Spain (4 points) are third followed by New Zealand (4 points), Argentina (4 points) and Japan (1 point).
Three points are awarded for a win. Only the top four teams from each group will head to the quarter-finals.
India will play their final group match against hosts Japan on Friday.
Jin-Hyek had won the men’s individual gold at London 2012 - the first South Korean to do so - and the men’s team gold at Tokyo 2020, beating the Indian men’s team along the way. Oh Jin-Hyek also has a men’s team bronze from London 2012.
The windy conditions continued at the Yumenoshima Park Archery Field for a second-straight day and it led to some inconsistent shooting.
Both Atanu Das and Oh Jin-Hyek began with an 8 with their first arrow. The South Korean then shot two 9s and Atanu Das could only shoot an 8 and 9 and the Indian lost the first set 25-26.
The duo then split the second and third sets 27-27 each. Atanu Das shot three 9s each in both sets. Oh Jin-Hyek could have won both sets with his final arrows but was off the mark.
Atanu Das levelled the scores in the fourth set, shooting 27 (8, 9, 10) to Oh Jin-Hyek’s 22 (9, 7, 6).
Both archers tied the fifth set with identical scores of 28, shooting 10, 9, 9 with their three arrows and moved into a shoot-off.
Oh Jin-Hyek could only shoot 9 and with the match on the line, Atanu Das caught the edge of the inner 10 with his arrow to pull off a major upset.
“I just got into my mind that it was going to be a tie, and I’ve faced tie games previously. I knew he (Oh) had the first shot and if he shoots a 9 I had to go for the bullseye. Fortunately I got it and won the match,” Atanu Das said after his win.
“I was fully focused on the match. I have tied a match with him in an other event, so I had that experience. I was focused on the moment and maintained my nerves to win today.”
Atanu Das had earlier beaten Chinese Taipei’s Yu-Cheng Deng 6-4 in the round of 64. Yu-Cheng Deng won a silver medal at Tokyo 2020 with the men’s team on Monday.
Atanu Das and wife Deepika Kumari, the women’s world No. 1, are the only remaining Indian archers at Tokyo 2020. Deepika Kumari has also progressed to the women’s individual round of 16.
However, Pravin Jadhav and Tarundeep Rai lost in the round of 32 on Wednesday.
India also bowed out early from the mixed team archery event when Deepika Kumari and Pravin Jadhav lost to eventual gold-medallists South Korea.
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