AXIATA CUP SF – Malaysia Tigers tamed

With the pressure on the Malaysia Tigers two days after they lost the first leg of the Axiata Cup semi-finals, the mighty Garuda tamed the Tigers with a white-wash on […]

With the pressure on the Malaysia Tigers two days after they lost the first leg of the semi-finals, the mighty Garuda tamed the Tigers with a white-wash on the latter’s home ground.

By Adrian Kok, Badzine Correspondent live in Kuala Lumpur.  Photos: Kennee Wong (live)

Home court advantage was not enough to help Malaysia’s Tigers to the Axiata Cup final.   They managed only one point in Friday’s losing effort in Jakarta.  Then, back in Kuala Lumpur, they needed to win all 3 matches in the second leg to book a place in the finals.

Liew Daren was chosen to take the lead instead of the world number one, Lee Chong Wei. It was a heavy burden as he faced Indonesia’s number two singles player, Simon Santoso (pictured below).  The Indonesian had a very impressive start and went ahead at the first interval with a huge gap. Daren was unable to defend against Simon’s relentless attacks and bowed to Simon with a score line of 11-21.

Simon continued to intensify his attacks by varying his shots to leave Daren off balance. The Malaysian found his rhythm in the second game which made it difficult for Simon. At 13-all, though, the composed Simon was able to win a crucial point and then went on to take a 3-point lead. From there onwards, it was downhill for Daren, who lost focus. Garuda won the first point with Simon’s win.

“Simon was prepared for this game,” said the doleful Daren.  “I felt that he dominated the forecourt and used it to his advantage.”

“I had to be patient in the first game as I know Daren is more of a counter-attacking player. He attacked more in the second game and I was following his rhythm until I managed to break away,” said Simon.

“Our target was to make it an all-Indonesian final and I think we are on course as Malaysia’s top players are not playing today,” Simon added.

It was clear to many that hope for the Tigers to book a ticket to finals was fading. However, the Tigers kept their chins up and continued to fight on.  For Indonesia, a scratch pair comprised of the reigning Olympic champion Hendra Setiawan and Mohammad Ahsan (pictured below) met Goh V Shem and Lim Khim Wah (pictured top).

It was a nail-biting men’s doubles match as both pairs was neck-and-neck in both games. In the first game, the Indonesians pair took a comfortable lead but the Malaysian fought well to edge themselves closer to the 21 points but the Indonesians caught up and forced the game into a deuce. The battle for a 2-point winning margin was fierce as both pair played fast drives and thunderous smashes but in the end, Hendra and Mohammed claimed the first game.

Goh and Lim played with more confidence in the second game. There are was dispute right after the interval of the second game where the umpire awarded the Malaysian pair a point even though, as the Indonesians claimed, Hendra’s serve hit Khim Wah’s racquet and went out. The Indonesians were almost given a card but they calmed themselves down and continued with the game.

Even though the young Malaysian pair, at one stage, had a four-point they were unable to hold on as they made a couple of mistakes that allowed the Indonesians back into the game. Again V Shem/Khim Wah were unable to close the second game as they made two tantalizing mistakes in extra points. The Indonesian pair won and it was two points for Garuda to set themselves up for a final with the compatriots the Indonesia Rajawali team, who had already recorded two shutout wins over the Malaysia Leopards.

“We made many mistakes when we were leading and allowed them to catch up, which affected our performance. We need to handle pressure better and be steadier in our game,” said Lim Khim Wah

V Shem later added ““We were fired up to win today but it was not meant to be.  Playing a team event like this teaches us to be more united. If one team-mate loses, we have to double our efforts to regain that point.  I believe we could have won, if luck was on our side”

Hendra comments on the bad call was “We got a little upset with the umpire when the score was 12-11 as she didn’t penalise the Malaysian pair for a foul. The serve hit their racquet and went out but she awarded them the point. We were nearly shown the yellow card but we managed to regain our composure.”

“We have achieved our target of making it an all-Indonesian final. I had expected a tough match and was not disappointed. I think we can go on and win this tournament, but I don’t know if we will be playing in the finals as our team-mates are also very good,” said Mohammad Ahsan with a big smile.

It was already clear that the Tigers had lost the chance to play in the finals. However, the last match between Malaysia’s Mohammad Arif Abdul Latif and Indonesian number one Taufik Hidayat (pictured below) had to be played. It was a one-sided affair as Taufik dominated both games. Though it seemed lopsided, Arif did not give up and still played his heart out. The young Malaysian tried to vary the pace and shots to move Taufik out of position. However, Taufik’s steady footwork gave him the advantage to return the shots.  The Indonesian wasted no time and blasted his way to win the match in straight games.

“Arif is a good player with good technique. I didn’t expect such an easy victory. If possible, I would like this tournament to be held every three months!  It is a good event but need more publicity,” said the former World Champion.  “The Axiata Cup has helped us with our preparations for the Thomas Cup and I believe that we will be united from now on.”

The dejected Mohamad Arif Abdul Latif said “I just need to prove myself to the coaches after this. I hope I can build their faith in me.”

Meanwhile, in Jakarta, Indonesia Rajawali again won the battle of the B-Teams when they took out the Malaysia Leopards in another 3-0 contest to match their victory Saturday in Kuala Lumpur.  They young Malaysians did not make it easy, however.  World Junior Champions Heg/Teo were the only ones not to earn a deciding game and that was in an already close two-game contest that India Open runners-up Pratama/Saputra won 21-19, 23-21.

Axiata Cup Semi-Final – Second leg results

Indonesia Garuda 3, Malaysia Tigers 0

Simon Santoso bt Liew Daren 21-11, 14
Hendra Setiawan / Mohammad Ahsan bt Lim Khim Wah / Goh V Shem 24-22, 22-20
Taufik Hidayat bt Mohamad Arif Abdul Latif 21-10, 21-7)

Indonesia Garuda win 5-1 on aggregate

Indonesia Rajawali 3, Malaysia Leopards 0

Tommy Sugiarto bt Misbun Ramdan Misbun 15-21, 21-17, 21-13
Ryan Agung Saputra / Angga Pratama bt Teo Ee Yi / Nelson Heg Wei Keat 21-19, 23-21
Dionysius Hayom Rumbaka bt Iskandar Zulkarnain 14-21, 21-17, 21-19

Rajawali win 6-0 on aggregate


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