INDONESIA pulled off a surprise by fielding “old man” Nova Widianto in a scratched doubles combination for the men’s team badminton final against Malaysia at the Gymnasium I of the National Sports Complex yesterday.
And it did the trick as the 32-year-old mixed doubles specialist Nova and his younger partner, Mohd Ahsan, clinched the winning point to give Indonesia a 3-1 win.
They outplayed Mohd Fairuzizuan Mohd Tazari-Mohd Zakry Abdul Latif, winning 21-18, 21-17 in just 32 minutes.
Malaysia also lost the two singles matches. Mohd Hafiz Hashim was beaten 20-22, 21-14, 12-21 by Sony Dwi Kuncoro while Beng Hong crashed to a 18-21, 13-21 defeat by Simon Santoso.
Malaysia’s point came from Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong in the second match of the tie. They defeated Markis Kido-Hendra Setiawan 19-21, 22-20, 21-10.
Indonesia’s doubles coach Sigit Pamungkas said that the team’s success was all about playing the right strategy.
”We wanted Nova’s name to give our team a psychological edge and to also to unsettle our opponents,” he said.
“He is a mixed doubles specialist and is playing in the men’s doubles in the SEA Games for the first time but he has a wealth of experience and is very strong mentally.
“Team competitions are all about applying the right strategy and having solid mental preparation. Today, we came through it successfully to continue with our domination in the team event at the SEA Games.”
Zakry was disappointed that they could not keep Malaysia’s challenge alive but denied that the presence of Nova threw them off rhythm.
”We had the upper hand against them at the start of the game. Then everything went wrong for us,” he said.
“We were affected by their double-motion service.
“We protested many times but it fell on deaf ears. It disrupted our concentration. If Fairuz and I were more composed, we could have won it. We are to be blamed.”
The defeat for Zakry-Fairuzizuan left the match between Liew Daren and Tommy Sugiarto as a dead one and it was not played.