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What did it take for India to win gold and create history at Thomas Cup?

Published at :May 16, 2022 at 10:34 PM
Modified at :December 13, 2023 at 1:01 PM
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(Courtesy : BAI )

Shaunak Ghosh

The country became only the sixth nation to clinch a gold medal at the tournament.

Thomas Cup is one of the most prestigious badminton tournaments in the world. It began in 1949 and the men’s team competition sees intense clashes in every edition. The Indian badminton team created history recently by winning the 2022 edition of the Thomas Cup. They had to overcome Indonesia in the final, which is also the most successful country in the history of the tournament.

Eventually, after a marvellous effort, India secured gold with a 3-0 victory against Indonesia. It took a lot of effort, bravery and togetherness to clinch the top place at the podium for the first time ever. Congratulatory wishes poured in from every corner of the country for the badminton stars that made this dream possible. 

It was a perilous journey and the men’s team overcame all the odds expertly. Here is a look back at the tournament, India’s journey to the final and the factors that led to the eventual win:

Valiant performance in singles

The Indian team was full of exceptional singles players, namely Lakshya Sen, Kidambi Srikanth and Pronnay H.S. They were crucial in winning key matches for India and kept the pressure low on the doubles fixtures. Since three out of five matches are singles fixtures, Indian singles players needed to deliver and that they did.

Particularly in the knockouts, Pronnay managed to win deciding fixtures against Malaysia and Denmark to take India to the final. Lakshya Sen gave India a positive start against Indonesia by winning the opening match. Kidambi Srikanth beat Anders Antonsen in the semi-final and followed it up with a sensational win against higher-ranked Jonathan Christie to hand India a 3-0 win and gold at the Thomas Cup.

The sensational pairing of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty

India’s hopes of points in the doubles category rested on the shoulders of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty. In each of the knockout fixtures, the duo won their matches and gave India a key point towards the win.

They beat the Malaysian pair of Sze Fei Goh and Nur Izzuddin, the Danish pair of Kim Astrup and Mathias Christiansen and the Indonesian pair of Mohammad Ahsan and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo, respectively. Both the final and the semi-final fixtures went into the third game as well.

Fighting against the odds

The Indian team had never won a medal at the Thomas Cup before the 2022 edition. Securing bronze was historical for the country and they went two steps better to finish with gold in the end. However, on several occasions, Indian badminton players had to overcome better-ranked opponents along the way.

During the knockout, in particular, Kidambi Srikanth (World Number 11) beat Anders Antonsen (World Number 3) in the semi-final. Later, Pronnay H.S (23) beat Rasmus Gemke who is ranked 13 in the world. In the final, Lakshya Sen (9) beat Ginting (5) and Kidambi Srikanth beat Jonathan Christie who is ranked eighth, three places better than him.  

Attacking brand of badminton

One of the best features of India’s performance in the Thomas Cup was their aggressiveness. The players did not crumble under pressure and played on the front foot. Despite coming up against stronger opponents, Indian shuttlers took control of most matches and also displayed a “never say die” attitude. 

For instance, Srikanth was under pressure to deliver a win against Christie in the final. The Indonesian is known to be aggressive and dominant. However, Kidambi did not let the opponent take control of the match, began strongly and played an attacking brand of badminton. This kept the Indonesian shuttler on the defensive and Srikanth won the match with a powerful smash. The same can also be said for the doubles pairings. They were fast and kept their opponents guessing. 

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