Thursday, May 19, 2022

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One for the history books: India makes it to Thomas Cup final for the first time ever

Indian Badminton players added a moment in the history books on the night of 13 May 2022. The Indian shutters defeated Denmark in a nail-biting contest. The Indian side won the thrilling semi-final by 3-2. Kidambi Srikanth, Chirag Shetty-Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and HS Prannoy won their respective games which propelled India into the first Thomas Cup final.

First-ever final for India

India was playing their first Thomas Cup semis in 43 years against one of the badminton powerhouses, Denmark, with the lights of world no. 1, Viktor Axelsen. Previously, India had reached the Thomas Cup semis in 1952, 1955 and 1979. The entry in the final has assured India a medal since the change of the format. The Indian side will face the 14-time Thomas Cup Champions, Indonesia on 15 May. India will aim for the historical gold but it will be an uphill task as Indonesia will aim for their 15th title win.

A thrilling Semi

The Indian side started the match with Lakshya Sen, 9th in the badminton world rankings, against world No. 1 and Olympic champion Viktor Axelsen.

The two-faced each other for the 3rd time this year. Sen shocked the Danish ace in the German Open semis in March, while later in that month, Axelsen squared off with Sen by winning the All England Open final. In the 3rd encounter of the year, Word No. 1 outclassed Sen and cruised to a comfortable straight-set win by 21-13. 21-13 in just 49 minutes, making the score 1-0 in favor of Denmark.

After that, India’s star double players Chirag Shetty & Satwiksairaj Rankireddy leveled the things for India. The pair defeated Kim Astrup & Mathias Christiansen by 21-18, 21-23, 22-20 in an hour and 17-minute-long marathon, taking the score to 1-1.

In the third game, India took the lead (2-1) in the tie for the first time with Kidambi Srikanth beating fellow world championships silver medallist Anders Antonsen by 21-18, 12-21, 21-14.

However, in the 4th game, Anders Skaarup Rasmussen & Frederik Sogaard from Denmark leveled the score to 2-2. The Denmark pair defeated Krishna Prasad & Vishnuvardhan Panjala.

After a see-saw pattern, it was all down to the 5th game – the final singles tie. Indian shutter HS Prannoy was up against Rasmus Gemke. Earlier in the tournament, Prannoy had produced a clutch win against Malaysia in the quarters. And in the match where it was most important to produce a win, HS didn’t disappoint. Prannoy produced a remarkable 13-21, 21-9, 21-12 come-from-behind victory to see India past the finish line and propelled India to their maiden Thomas Cup final.

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