India made history by winning the Thomas Cup for the first time with a 3-0 upset of reigning champions Indonesia in Bangkok on Sunday.
The Indian team, competing in their debut final of the men’s team championship, sealed the title when world No 11 Kidambi Srikanth defeated Jonatan Christie 21-15, 23-21.
Indonesia, the tournament’s most successful team having previously won it 14 times, could not keep pace with the fire brought by the Indian team – who joyfully rushed the court following Srikanth’s win.
Lakshya Sen overcame Anthony Ginting in the first singles match and then Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty defeated Mohammad Ahsan and Kevin Sukamuljo in the doubles before Srikanth applied the finishing touches.
Lakshya Sen delivers a thriller
In the first match of the tie, world No 5 Ginting grabbed the first game in style over Sen, 21-8.
But he then wobbled, and with Sen growing in confidence, the Indian world No 9 won the next two games 21-17, 21-16.
“I think this one is for the team, they have been backing me throughout my performances,” the 20-year-old Sen said. “In the closing stages I was really nervous and trying to calm myself with deep breaths.”
A subdued Ginting admitted there were things he could have improved on. “I play in a rush today and that’s why I make a lot of mistakes,” he said.
For Satwik-Chirag, facing one half of the world No 1 pair (Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo) and one half of the world No 2 (Mohammad Ahsan) was going to be a tough ask but the Indian youngsters showed tremendous grit to overcome match points in game 2 and clinch game 3 in thrilling fashion. There were some controversial moments during this match too, but in the end, the joy was evident on the Indians faces who embraced their coach Mathias Boe.
Srikanth applies finishing touches
India were already 2-0 up and the onus was on Christie, an Asian Games gold medallist now in his fourth Thomas Cup campaign, to save Indonesia’s flagging title hopes. The man nicknamed JoJo had to pull a rabbit out of the hat.
But the eighth-ranked Christie couldn’t do it and seemed overcome with nerves at the onset of his do-or-die match against Srikanth.
The 29-year-old Srikanth took full advantage, bearing down relentlessly on Christie in the second game.
The victorious squad
Remember the names (from top row left clockwise): Srikanth Kidambi, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, Lakshya Sen, HS Prannoy, Vishnuvardhan Goud Panjala, Priyanshu Rajawat, Krishna Prasad Garaga, Dhruv Kapila, MS Arjun and Chirag Shetty.
All images courtesy: Badmintonphoto via BWF
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Inputs from AFP