The BWF Thomas and Uber Cup Finals 2022 will get underway in Bangkok, Thailand on Sunday. The prestigious team championships for men (Thomas Cup) and Women (Uber Cup) will be organized by the Badminton World Federation (BWF) from May 8 to 15.
India have a very capable men's team this year. Many experts, including former player Vimal Kumar, believe that India have a golden chance to win the Thomas Cup this time around.
Former Indian badminton team coach Vimal Kumar feels that this is the perfect chance for India to break the Thomas Cup jinx. He believes that the Indian squad can prove to the world that they are capable of winning the event.
They also have a men's doubles pair in the form of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, who are in the world's top-10 ranking slot.
Three quality singles players give India an advantage over other teams: Vimal Kumar
The Thomas Cup tie comprises of three singles and two doubles in the best-of-five-match format.
The trio of Lakshya Sen, Kidambi Srikanth, and HS Prannoy give India an added advantage in the competition. The doubles department is also solid with the presence of Chirag and Satwik.
Vimal Kumar told Sportskeeda that, in his view, this is the most formidable Indian line-up of men's singles players ever sent to the Thomas Cup.
“I firmly believe that the Indian men’s badminton team has a very good chance of winning the Thomas Cup this year. We have never had such a formidable team. This time around we have three excellent singles players and a world-class doubles pair. We have the potential to upset any team if our players perform to their best abilities.”
India have been clubbed in Group C along with Chinese Taipei, Germany, and Canada. The Indian men's team will begin their campaign against Germany on Sunday.
They are expected to dominate the German unit in their opening match. Canada might offer some stiff resistance to India in their second Group C league outing on Monday.
With in-form Brian Yang and a couple of other quality players like Jason Anthony Ho-Shue and Nyl Yakura in doubles, Canada can't be taken lightly.
However, India’s real test lies in their third and final league encounter against Chinese Taipei. The Indian men's team will have a day’s rest before they face the formidable Chinese Taipei team.
India would like to top the group so that they can get a relatively easy opponent in the quarter-finals. Only the top two teams from each group will qualify for the knock-outs.
India can do what Denmark did in 2016: Vimal Kumar
Bengaluru-based Vimal Kumar said India can do what Denmark did in 2016 on the basis of their strong men's singles players.
“All the three singles players, Lakshya Sen, Kidambi Srikanth, and HS Prannoy have been in splendid form this season. They should try and capitalize on their solid form. If they can deliver great results collectively, we can do wonders. Unlike previous years, our men's doubles section is not weak at all. Chirag and Satwik have proved they can beat anyone in the world. Denmark emerged as a surprise packet in 2016. I just have the feeling that we can do what Denmark did six years ago."
Traditionally, the Thomas Cup was always won by Asian countries until Denmark became the first European country in history and the fifth nation overall to win the Thomas Cup.
The Danish team defeated Indonesia 3–2 in the 2016 finals. Denmark won the Thomas Cup because they had three quality singles players in the form of Viktor Axelsen, Jan O Jorgensen, and Hans-Kristian Vittinghus.
Indonesia claimed both doubles matches but Viktor Axelsen, Jan O Jorgensen, and Hans-Kristian Vittinghus won their singles contests. This powered Denmark to an emotional triumph against the 13-time champions.
India can match what Denmark did in 2016 as they also have three in-form men’s singles players. World No. 9 Lakshya Sen and world No. 11 Kidambi Srikanth will have to lead by example if India aims to go deep in the competition.
World No. 23 HS Prannoy has been in sensational form in the last few months. The experienced campaigner has had some terrific wins in 2022.
According to the 59-year-old Vimal Kumar, the Indian team has struggled in the past due to paucity of quality singles players.
“India did not do well in the Thomas Cup earlier as we didn’t have three top-class singles players and an equally-well doubles pair. This year we have Lakshya, Srikanth and Prannoy who can do the job for us. I hope they live up to their reputation and form to guide India to maiden Thomas Cup glory. It will not be easy but India certainly can do it this year."
Indonesia beat China 3-0 in the final to end a 19-year winless drought in Aarhus, Denmark last year.
Indonesia is the most successful nation in the history of the men's badminton team championship with 14 titles, but has endured a nearly two-decade winless drought. India have never reached the Thomas Cup finals and bowed out in the quarter-final stage in 2021.
India’s Thomas Cup squad
Lakshya Sen, Kidambi Srikanth, HS Prannoy, and Priyanshu Rajawat.
Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, Chirag Shetty, MR Arjun, Dhruv Kapila, Krishna Prasad Garaga, and Vishnuvardhan Goud Panjala.