Lack of match fitness proved to be the bane for Indian shuttlers as they went down 2-3 to mighty Malaysia in their last Group D tie of the Badminton Asia Youth Under-19 Championship on Sunday.
Despite the loss India qualified for the knockout stage after receiving a walkover against Iran earlier in the day. The hosts, who finished second in the group behind Malaysia, now face Group B topper Chinese Taipei on Monday.
K Srikant and K Maneesha couldn't get their combination right in the opening match and lost the tie but Sameer Verma drew parity for hosts, winning the boys' singles by defeating Nur Mohd Azrlyn Ayub in straight games 21-10, 21-12.
PV Sindhu then went down fighting to Sonia Su Ya Cheah 14-21, 22-24 in the girls' singles, allowing Malaysia to stretch their lead to 2-1.
Malaysia pocketed the boys' doubles but India bounced back in the girls' doubles match as Sindhu teamed up with Maneesha to beat Mel Kuan Chow and Meng Yean Lee. After winning the first game by 21-18 in a tight finish, the Indian pair found things tough in the second with the Malaysian pair coming up with a stunning show to win the game 21-12. But in the decider Sindhu and Maneesha were at their best, giving little chance to rivals before wrapping up the match at 21-14.
Other teams in the knockout stage are China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan and Thailand.