Friday blockbuster: India in historic Thomas Cup final

HS Prannoy beat world No. 13 Rasmus Gemke of Denmark 13-21, 21-9, 21-12 to help India upset former champions Denmark 3-2 in the Thomas Cup semi-finals on Friday. (Pic credit: BAI)
HS Prannoy beat world No. 13 Rasmus Gemke of Denmark 13-21, 21-9, 21-12 to help India upset former champions Denmark 3-2 in the Thomas Cup semi-finals on Friday. (Pic credit: BAI)
Suhas Nayse

Indian men’s badminton reached one of its highest peak with its team storming into the final of the Thomas Cup on Friday.

The golden generation of Indian badminton scripted history as they rallied back splendidly to stun title favorites and former champions Denmark 3-2 in Bangkok, Thailand.

The Thomas Cup semi-final between India and Denmark lived up to their pre-match expectations with contests going down to the wire at the Impact Arena in Bangkok.

The epic semi-final boiled down to the fifth match and stretched to the final game of the tie, which underlined the fierce fight between the two teams.

The Indian team displayed tremendous character and tenacity to knock out 2016 Thomas Cup Champions.

HS Prannoy once again produced a spectacular performance under tremendous pressure to pull off a sensational win. The 29-year-old Prannoy showed nerves of steel to clinch that crucial fifth match after being down by a game.

The unsung hero of Indian badminton, Prannoy, bettered world No. 13 Rasmus Gemke of Denmark 13-21, 21-9, 21-12 in an hour and 13 minutes.

The world No. 23 repeated his heroics from Thursday to fashion one of the greatest victories in Indian badminton history.

Prannoy had defeated Malaysia’s Leong Jun Hao 21-13, 21-8 in 39 minutes in the deciding fifth and last match of the quarter-finals on Thursday to spark off crazy celebrations.

Being the oldest member of the squad, Prannoy took the onus on himself and delivered when it mattered the most.

As he calmly placed his backhand dribble winner into the left corner of Gemke’s court for that final point, the veteran did not celebrate wildly the way he did in the quarters against Malaysia.

While Prannoy stood on the court in disbelief, his ecstatic teammates sprinted on the court to hug him and jumped madly to celebrate the historic occasion.

It is the first time in 73 years of the Thomas Cup that India has reached the final. Entering the semis after a huge gap of 43 years on Thursday, India raised the bar to enter the summit clash. In 1979, India had reached the semis for the first time which ensured their first medal in the prestigious biennial team championships.

Kidambi Srikanth and doubles pair Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty live up to expectations

While there is no doubt that Prannoy hogged the limelight by winning back-to-back deciding matches in the quarters and semis, the contributions of Kidambi Srikanth and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty were equally important.

Like seasoned campaigners, Kidambi Srikanth and Satwik-Chirag won their respective matches to help India stay in contention.

World No. 11 Srikanth and world No. 8 men’s doubles pair Satwik and Chirag lived up to their reputation and form to earn those all-important victories against Malaysia and Denmark.

Srikanth’s win against world No. 3 Anders Antonsen was perhaps the turning point of the tie, which provided a vital 2-1 lead for India.

Srikanth quelled a spirited challenge from Anders Antonsen 21-18, 12-21, 21-15 in a marathon encounter that lasted an hour and 20 minutes.

Similarly, Satwik and Chirag raised their hands when the team desperately needed their services. The ace Indian doubles combination of Satwiksairaj and Chirag pipped Denmark’s Kim Astrup and Mathias Christiansen 21-18, 21-23, 22-20.

The hard-fought match lasted 78 minues. The Indian duo, who could have wrapped up the match in straight games, won a tense battle on their sixth match point.

India to face defending champions Indonesia for Thomas Cup gold medal

India will cross swords with Indonesia in the Thomas Cup final on Sunday. The defending champions edged past Japan 3-2 in the second semis.

Japan were leading 2-1 before holders Indonesia, who beat China 3-2 in the 2021 Thomas Cup final in Denmark, won their last two matches against Japan to enter back-to-back finals.

Edited by Akshay Saraswat


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