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Thomas And Uber Cup 2024

What went wrong for India in Thomas Cup title defence?

Published at :May 5, 2024 at 7:24 PM
Modified at :May 15, 2024 at 11:48 PM
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(Courtesy : Badminton Photo/BAI)

Ansh Garg

India bowed out with a 3-1 quarter-final loss to China.

Defending champions India were placed in Group C, alongside Indonesia, Thailand, and England. Their journey in the Thomas Cup began positively, securing a 4-1 victory against Thailand in their first group-stage encounter. They followed this up with a commanding 5-0 win over England in the second group match. Nevertheless, the team encountered a setback in their final group game, losing 4-1 to Indonesia and consequently finishing second in their group.

In the quarterfinal matchup, India faced home favourites China. HS Prannoy, in excellent form, clinched the first game against World No. #2, Shi Yuqi. Yet, Shi swiftly regained control, ultimately defeating Prannoy in three games.

Next, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty were up against the current world number #1 pair, Wang Chang and Liang Weikeng, but lost in three games. In another nail-biting match, Lakshya Sen faced off against Li Shi Feng, with Lakshya emerging victorious in three games.

Despite this, India’s campaign came to an end in the fourth match, as Dhruv Kapila and Sai Pratheek lost in straight games, leading to India’s elimination from the competition.

What went wrong for India in their Thomas Cup title defence?

Firstly, the loss to Indonesia proved costly as it led to India finishing second in the group, setting up a challenging quarter-final against the home favourites, China. Perhaps more favourable results in the quarter and semifinals could have boosted Indian players’ confidence and provided them with a better chance against heavy favourites like China.

Three key factors in India’s poor showing

  1. Satwik and Chirag, who played a crucial role in India’s 2022 Thomas Cup campaign by remaining undefeated, failed to replicate their performance this year, losing two out of their four matches.
  2. India struggled with the absence of a reliable second men’s doubles pair, a problem that persisted from the previous tournament. The makeshift pairing of Dhruv Kapila and Sai Pratheek failed to deliver the desired results.
  3. The uncertainty surrounding India’s third men’s singles player was evident this year. Srikanth Kidambi, who was undefeated as the second singles player in the last Thomas Cup, faced a loss to Chico in the final group-stage match and Kidambi was replaced by Kiran George in the quarterfinals against China, a clear sign of an unsettled side.

Defending their title against the formidable 10-time champions, China, on their home turf, was always going to be a formidable challenge for India. India facing China within 24 hours of their strenuous match against Indonesia also certainly didn’t work in their favor either.

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This was what HS Prannoy had to say about the loss (Via BWF): “We had a long match yesterday while China had an off day. It may have also played a part once the rallies got long in the third game. But I am happy with the way I fought and will take a lot of learning from this tournament.”

In summary, India might have secured a podium finish had the draw been more favourable. What’s even more frustrating is that in three out of the four matches against China, they pushed to a deciding third game, indicating they had opportunities to turn the tide in their favour.

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