Srikanth Kidambi, HS Prannoy and the doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty registered victories as the Indian men’s badminton team created history on Friday by defeating Denmark and reaching the final of the Thomas Cup for the first time.
India had already made history on Thursday when they defeated Malaysia to reach the semifinals and secure the country’s first-ever medal at the Thomas Cup in its current version. But in Bangkok on Friday, the Indian team went a step further and defeated a strong Danish team 3-2 to book a spot in the final against Indonesia.
The tie began with a much-anticipated clash between Lakshya Sen and world No 1 and reigning Olympic champion Viktor Axelsen. The Danish superstar led the head-to-head record between the two players 5-1 and he went on to better it with a commanding performance.
Axelsen was challenged by Sen in the early exchanges of the match but soon stamped his authority to register a 21-13, 21-13 to give Denmark a crucial 1-0 lead in the tie.
Next up was a doubles clash as Satwik-Chirag were up against Kim Astrup and Mathias Christiansen. Denmark decided to split their top pair into separate teams – Astrup with Christiansen and Anders Skaarup Rasmussen with Frederik Sogaard.
Astrup-Christiansen started the match brightly but the Indians found their rhythm soon enough to clinch the first game. It seemed like it was going to be a straight-game win when Satwik-Chirag had two match points but the Danes turned things around in style to bag the second game.
Satwik-Chirag, however, recovered from the setback and raced ahead in the decider. They once again had match points, three in a row this time, and once again the Danes managed to survive. But the Indians didn’t panic thereafter and closed out a 21-18, 21-23, 22-20 victory to draw India level in the tie.
Srikanth Kidambi then continued his unbeaten run in the tournament by defeating world No 3 Anders Antonsen in impressive fashion. The former world No 1 from India won the first game fairly comfortably before the Dane bounced back to take the match to a decider.
But Srikanth raised his level once again and kept his nose ahead for the most part in the third game to complete a 21-18, 12-21, 21-15 and give India a 2-1 lead in the tie.
In the second doubles match of the tie, Krishna Prasad and Vishnuvardhan Goud were up against Anders Skaarup Rasmussen and Frederik Sogaard. The Indians fought hard throughout the match but the Danes were simply too powerful and completed a 21-14, 21-13 victory to help their team draw level.
With the tie locked at 2-2, it all came down to the fifth and final match between HS Prannoy and Rasmus Gemke. The Dane flew out of the blocks and bagged the first game, midway through which Prannoy suffered a nasty fall. But the Indian recovered from both setbacks with immense grit and turned things around in style.
Prannoy completely dominated the second game before remaining focussed and clinical in the third to win 13-21 21-9 21-12 and hand India a memorable 3-2 triumph and a spot in the final.