Bangkok: India’s men’s badminton set delivered an all-ages feat, winning the Thomas Cup title on Sunday with an impressive 3-0 victory over powerhouse Indonesia, a historic triumph that will elevate the country’s status in the sport.
World Championships Medalist Lakshya SenoKidambi Srikanth and doubles Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy delivered when it mattered most to stun the 14-time champion.
After failing in the knockout stages, young Sen gave India a 1-0 lead with a come-from-behind 8-21 21-17 21-16 victory over world number five Anthony Sinisuka Ginting in a great show of temperament and skill.
The country’s best doubles pair, Rankireddy and Shetty, then showed nerves of steel as they saved four match points in the second game to eventually outsmart Mohammad Ahsan and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo 18-21 23-21 21-19.
In the second singles, Srikanth outclassed Asian Games gold medalist Jonatan Christie 21-15 23-21 in 48 minutes to seal the historic victory.
An incredible week culminated in a fitting way for Indian badminton as the country had never reached the top of the world’s most prestigious team event.
Sen showed great mental fortitude as he recovered from the opening game reversal to outsmart his higher-ranked opponent. It was his second win in as many career conversations against Ginting.
The game was fast paced with the two players producing skewed returns in the rallies to put each other in tricky positions.
At halftime, Ginting led 11-7 and after that it was one-way traffic, as the Indonesian walked away easily in the first game.
After the change of teams, Lakshya played better and led 7-4 before going into halftime with a four-point lead.
Ginting mounted his charge to narrow the lead to 11-12, but Sen held the rallies tight, taking five game points and taking the game to the decider.
Sen continued to use his rival in rallies, but Ginting rode on his precision to make it 5-1. The Indian showed great temperament as he slowly wrote a comeback and narrowed the lead to 6-8.
Ginting was able to build an 11-7 lead at halftime, with Sen bringing in the net.
Back on the better side of the field, Sen began to dominate the rallies as Ginting slumped twice, bringing the Indian back to 12-12 with a crosscourt smash after a long rally.
Sen slowly withdrew with a flurry of points to go to 18-14.
A quick return to serve from Sen and a wide shot from Ginting took the Indian to four match points and he converted with another tight shot that kissed the tape and toppled over.
Sen fell flat on the track in disbelief.
Then it was Satwik and Chirag’s turn to own the podium and they showed their tenacity against Ahsan and Sukamuljo.
After narrowly losing the first game, India came back strong in the second and took the game to the decider after saving three match points.
In the third game, India tried to lift high and use the field. It worked, as they led 11-9 at halftime in the third game.
After an exciting battle it was 16-16. India showed better nerves and won a crucial video reference. Satwik unleashed a smash and once Sukamulyo went to the net it was India’s two match point advantage.
Indonesia saved one, but more drama was in store when Satwik was then shown a yellow card for delaying to get ready for a serve. But Chirag produced a cross-court smash to close out the match and let out a roar as India led 2-0.
In the second basehits, Srikanth played a measured game, keeping the rallies short and nailing every time the shuttle was in his hitting range. It worked, as his precise smashes on both flanks earned him points.
Srikanth was leading 8-3, but he committed too many unforced errors to allow Christie to tie the score at 15-15. However, the Indian kept things under control, making it 20-16 and sealing it as Christie went to the net.
The second game was no different, but Srikanth took a three-point lead at halftime. After the break, Christie turned the tables with a six-point burst of 10-13 to jump to grab a three-point cushion.
However, a few errors by Christie and Srikanth tied the score at 18-18.
Another exciting rally ended with a jump smash as Srikanth was two points away from a win. However, Chirstie was the first to go to the game point when the shuttle hit the net.
Srikanth saved one, but Christie pushed back to the match point with a quick reflex.
Srikanth then took a championship point with a smash and sealed it with another great high-jump smash.
The Indian turned to his teammates, threw his fist in the air and the entire squad ran across the field, jumping for joy.
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