The Olympic quota already booked, the Indian’s men’s recurve team reached the final of the World Archery Championships for the first time since 2005 after it shocked a formidable Netherlands on Thursday.
The Indian team will be seeking its maiden title as it faces China in the summit clash. China ousted top seed Korea 6-2 in the other semifinal on Thursday.
A day after securing the 2020 Tokyo Olympics three-man quota by making it to the quarterfinals, the India trio of Tarundeep Rai, Atanu Das and Pravin Jadhav held their nerves to come from behind and win 29-28 in the shoot-off for an overall score of 5-4.
This is the second time when the men’s recurve team reached the World Championships final. At Madrid 2005, the Indian team comprising Rai, Jayanta Talukdar and Gautam Singh had lost to Korea 232-244 in the summit clash.
India also remained in the medal contention in the women’s compound team event as it faces Turkey in the bronze medal playoff on Saturday.
Having thrashed Chinese Taipei 6-0 in the quarter, the Indian men’s recurve team found a strong challenge from the second seeded home team led by world-number-two Steve Wijler.
The other two players of Netherlands were 2016 Rio Olympics semifinalist Sjef van den Berg and London 2012 semifinalist Rick.
The Indians trailed in the match twice but spearheaded by Rai, who was a member of the silver winning team at the Madrid World Championship 14 years ago, the trio bounced back and forced the match to the shoot-off.
Using the conditions better than the home team, the Indians shot a near-perfect 29 out of 30 to edge out the Netherlands by one point.
This was also for the first time since 2014 that the Indian men’s team reached the final of a world event. India had ended up with a silver at the Wroclaw Stage IV World Cup in 2014 with Rai, Das and Jayanta Talukdar in the team.
The Indian team last won a gold in a World Cup event nine years ago at the World Cup Stage IV in Shanghai with Rai being a member of that team too.
“He’s our great motivation now. It’s a great moment for us,” Das said after the match, giving credit to the senior teammate.
“Last few years, I was struggling in all the three events – individual, mixed pair and team events. I was up to the mark but not able to put up any medal-winning show. I tried harder and harder and finally it happened,” Das said.
The Netherlands grabbed a 2-0 lead with two perfect 10s, including one X (closest to centre), to win the first set 56-54.
But the home team had a poor opening in the second set with scores of 6, 8 and 8 as the Indians seized the momentum to win 52-49 and bring the match on an even keel (2-2).
Not ready to give up easily, the Netherlands’ trio had a near flawless third set with one 10 and two Xs to snatch a 4-2 lead before winning by one point (57-56).
The Indians then produced their best show of the match with four perfect 10s including two Xs to level the match 4-all for an exciting shoot-off finish.