(Photo: Badmintonphoto)
India top of the world with first Thomas Cup win
Date: 5/15/2022 12:20 PM
Published by : Alan Raftery
There is not much that can beat a Thomas Cup final day. Fans around the world were fixed on the final in Bangkok between the reigning champions Indonesia and the Indian history-makers. It was a historic day in the sport.

Just seven months ago, Indonesia became Thomas Cup champions after a wait of almost two decades. It is understandable that this team were desperate to fight for the right to hold on to their trophy a little longer. 

Their challenge in the final was a different one. An Indian team which has already made history by medalling for the very first time and entered the final with nothing to lose. 

Sen strikes first
The final kicked off with a match-up between the Olympic bronze medallist, Anthony Ginting and the World bronze medallist, Lakshya Sen. The two played earlier this year in Germany, with Sen winning in shockingly easy fashion, conceding just 16 points in total.

Ginting has played every match for Indonesia in Bangkok. Perhaps a decision to try and play him into better form. This seemed to be the case with good wins against China’s Zhao Jun Peng and Japan’s Kento Momota in the quarterfinal and semifinal respectively. Although, four out of the five matches were gruelling three-game slogs.

Despite this, Ginting flew away with the opening game. Sen, a calm tactician, found away to pry away Ginting’s control of the net. Sticking to this plan to the bitter end he came away with a valuable point for India, 8-21, 21-17, 21-16.

Fast and furious doubles
Recently, we have seen Indonesia flex their muscles in men’s doubles with emerging young talents. However, in this campaign, the more experienced heads led the charge once again.

With Hendra Setiawan forced to watch from the sidelines, Mohammad Ahsan partnered with Kevin Sukamuljo and together they scored big wins on the way to the final, namely defeating the World Champions, Hoki/ Kobayashi in the semifinal.

Despite being a scratch pairing, India’s established world number eight pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy/ Chirag Shetty had in fact played this Indonesian combination before. They defeated them in a marathon match at the Asia Team Championships in 2018, 24-22 in the decider. 

Today once again there was not much between them. However, Ahsan/ Sukamuljo had the edge in the first half of the match, even setting up three match points in the second game. A few snatched shots and nervous smiles later, they somehow found themselves walking to their bags to prepare for a decider, losing 23-21.

In a fast and furious final game, it could have gone either way, however, the tall Indians were able to more consistently get their attack firing. As soon as they won the last point with no room for error, they collapsed with joy, understanding the significance of winning this important match for the tie overall, 18-21, 23-21, 21-19.

Srikanth delivers the dream
India being 2-0 up against the champions was the stuff of dreams, with now three chances to add the final point that will make them champions of the world.

Srikanth Kidambi, the world silver medallist, stood up against Jonatan Christie, a man who was the hero for Indonesia in last year’s Thomas Cup in Aarhus, Denmark. He needed to reach the same level of heroics here. 

This was their tenth clash, with Christie winning the two matches this year in Switzerland and Korea relatively comfortably. Today however, is different, there was so much more on the line.

Srikanth started very tidily and cleaned up the first game with an efficient 21-15 win. Mid-way through the second game, Srikanth also had control, but Christie made his move and took the lead, 18-16. Asserting himself more physically, Christie set up game points on two occasions, but Srikanth had an answer each time. The 29-year-old made a decision – he was going to take his shots, and it paid off, winning 21-15, 23-21.

India has been written into the history books with this colossal performance. It always starts with a dream that seems impossible. Today India have made this a reality and celebrate with the familiar colours of saffron, white and green draped on their shoulders. A proud moment to cherish for forever. 

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