It’s as big as it can get for Indian badminton as the men’s team won their first-ever Thomas Cup title, beating 14-time champions Indonesia 3-0 in a heroic effort in the final of the prestigious team championship in Bangkok, Thailand on Sunday, May 15.
India had never reached the final of the Thomas and Uber Cup in the tournament’s 73-year-long history, but the Indian men not only broke the drought but went a step ahead and became only the 6th nation after China, Indonesia, Japan, Denmark, and Malaysia to win the Thomas Cup title.
Chants of “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” and the sound of Dhol were reverberating at the Impact Arena as the young Indian shuttlers came out all guns firing on the big day. The celebrations after the historic victory told how much it meant to the Indian badminton contingent as they flaunted the enviable team spirit that has been dominating headlines this week.
India did not need the second doubles match and the third singles match as Lakshya Sen, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy/Chirag Shetty and Kidambi Srikanth made it 3-0 for the historic victory.
Pure show of grit and determination & India becomes the #ThomasCup champion for the 1st time in style, beating 14 times champions Indonesia 3-0 in the finals
— BAI Media (@BAI_Media) May 15, 2022
India were not the overwhelming favourites at the start of the team tournament but the young shuttlers from India had the firepower in them to take out the giants and they did exactly that over the last 7 days in Bangkok even as the women crashed out in the quarter-finals of the Uber Cup.
India won the gold medal while Indonesia finished with the silver. Denmark and Japan finished with the bronze at the prestigious team championship.
TERRIFIC LAKSHYA FIGHTS BACK
Lakshya Sen celebrates his win over Anthony Ginting in Thomas Cup final (AP Photo)
it all began when Lakshya Sen showcased why he is one of the highly-rated young shuttlers in the world. The 20-year-old, ranked No. 9, had headed into the final on the back of defeats to Viktor Axelsen and Lee Zii Jia in the semi-final and quarter-final, respectively.
It did not start well for Lakshya, the winner of the World Championships bronze medal, as he was blown away 8-21 in the opening game by Olympic bronze medalist Anthony Ginting. Lakshya looked unsettled as he was hitting with the drift after Ginting won the toss and chose sides.
However, Lakshya, just 20, retained his calm and composure, helped by his coaches from the sidelines. The young Indian shuttler, who reached the All England final, upped his game and became more proactive, forcing errors from Ginting.
The first match was played a break-neck speed as Ginting, known as one of the fastest players on the tour, was undone by Lakshya’s stunning defence.
Lakshya bounced back to win the opening match and give India a 1-0 lead. It was an incredible turn around as the young shuttler kept his calm, frustrating Ginting who loves to finish off rallies quickly. Lakshya’s incredible defence was on display as he completed the comeback 8-21, 21-17, 21-16 in an hour and 5 minutes.
Gillian Clarke, the popular commentator, best described Lakshya’s efforts in the decider, saying the shutter played “like a man possessed”.
SATWIK-CHIRAG SAVE 4 MATCH POINTS
Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, who agonisingly missed out on reaching the knockout stages at the Tokyo Olympics, mede up for it by being the pillars of the Indian team throughout the competition.
Facing World No. 1 and World No. 2 doubles stars Kevin Sanjaya and Mohammad Ahsan, the young Indian pair did not wilt under pressure but thrived.
After losing the opening game 18-21, Satwik and Chirag saved 4 match points to force a deicer.
The confidence of Lakshya’s win was evident as Satwik and Chirag stunned Sanjaya and Ahsan to give India 2-0 lead.
CALM SRIKANTH DELIVERS
Kidambi Srikanth ended Thomas Cup 2022 with a perfect 6-0 record. The former World No. 1 has tasted world-level success for the 2nd time this year after having won the silver at the world championships earlier in 2022.
Srikanth brought all his experience as he remained calm under pressure to outclass Joanthan Christie 21-15, 23-21 in the second singles match which proved to be the final one of the tie.
Srikanth was toying with Christie, against whom he had lost twice earlier this year. But the former World No. 1 cut out the outside noise to put one past Chrstie.