India's ace 10m air pistol shooter Saurabh Chaudhary came up with superb marksmanship, topping the qualification round and lifting the gloom surrounding the contingent at the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday.
The Meerut boy shot 586 to be tied with Chinese Bowen Zhang after qualification, but as the Indian had more 'inner 10s' (27) to his name, he took the first spot foing into the finals.
The other Indian in the fray, Abhishek Verma, was in the reckoning for a place in the finals. But he shot two 9s followed by two 8s in his last four shots, which meant that he finished 17th with a score of 575.
The 19-year-old Chaudhary started off with five shots of 10, leading the competition early. But it was followed by five shots of 9 to end the first series with 95. In the second and third series, he had scores of 98 each.
The fourth series was stellar for him, getting perfect 10s in all the ten shots.
Chaudhary had 43 shots of 10s till shooting a nine on the second-last shot of the fifth series, ending with 98. In the final series, he started off with six 10s followed by three 9s and ending with a 10.
The 31-year-old Verma had an iffy start with 94 in the first series. He was able to overcome it by shooting 96 and 98 in the second and third series respectively. A 97 in the fourth series and 98 in five propelled him to reach inside the top-eight.
Verma looked set to join Chaudhary in the finals till the final series, but the meltdown in the final four shots caused the former's downfall.
The other finalists include Christian Reitz of Germany, Pavlo Korostylow of Ukraine, Javad Foroughi of Iran, Mose Kim of South Korea, Wei Pang of China and Damir Mikec of Serbia.
The final of the men's 10m air pistol will take place at 12pm IST.