Incheon: India on Saturday ended a 28-year-old medal drought in Asian Games badminton after the women's shuttlers, led by Saina Nehwal and P V Sindhu, edged out Thailand 3-2 to reach the semifinals of the women's team event, here today.
After Saina and Sindhu registered hard-fought victories in the first two singles, scratch combination of Sindhu and Ashwini Ponnappa finally assured India the bronze medal after they clinched the final women's doubles match.
World No. 7 Saina gave the team a fine start though after a tough 67-minute struggle against Thai no. 1 and 2013 world champion Ratchanok Intanon which was capitalised upon by Sindhu, who put her team 2-0 in front in the best-of-five rubber by defeating Porntip Buranaprasertsuk.
But the weakness in India's doubles play and third singles came to the fore as the Thais fought themselves back into recokoning by drawing level and forced the decider.
The Thais won the third singles, when Ongbamrungphan Busanan easily defeated India's P C Thulasi, and then clinched the first doubles too to draw level at 2-2.
It was then left to Sindhu and Ashwini, who won the deciding rubber in a tense match against Sapsiree Taerattanchai and Sasalee Thoungthongkam to pilot India into the last four stage after a four hour and 15 minute battle.
India will meet South Korea tomorrow in the semis after the hosts defeated Chinese Taipei in another quarter final tie. China and Japan will meet in the other semis.
India's last medal of any hue in badminton had come in 1986 when the men's team claimed bronze.
Ever since badminton made its debut in the Asiad in 1966, India have managed just seven bronze medals with Syed Modi being the only singles medallist in 1982.
However, the men's team was outplayed by Korea 0-3.
K Srikanth and Commonwealth Games gold-medallist Parupalli Kashyap went down in contrasting fashions while the doubles team of Sumeeth Reddy and Manu Attri also failed to come good.