India script history to win gold and become Thomas Cup champions
On a dream run, first-time finalists India tamed 14-time champions Indonesia in a thriller to become the champions of the Thomas Cup 2022 and claimed gold to create history for Indian badminton.
India are Thomas Cup 2022 champions. Let that sink in, for one second.
Coming in as underdogs in this tournament, first-time finalists India showcased what it means to play like a team throughout their campaign at the Thomas Cup 2022 to win the crown and claimed the gold medal with a heroic performance against 14-time champions Indonesia. India also became the only 6th nation to ever win Thomas Cup after Indonesia won it 14 times, China claimed the trophy 10 times, Malaysia 5 times, and Denmark and Japan won one each.
In the first match, World No. 9 Lakshya Sen braved Olympic bronze medallist Anthony Ginting in the opener and played an edge-of-the-seat thriller against the World No. 5. Having already defeated Ginting in their lone meeting previously at the German Open, Lakshya did have the slight edge but in the opening game it was all one-way traffic from Ginting with Lakshya playing considerably slow.
However, come Game 2, Lakshya Sen turned things around and how! Gaining a psychological advantage by coming out on top of the rallies as Ginting committed one error too many then, Lakshya Sen pulled off a three-set win in 21-8, 17-21, 16-21 to get India on the board first.
After Lakshya, it was time for the dynamic doubles duo of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty to keep the winning momentum going. Facing the half-half combine of the Minions and the Daddies with Kevin Sukamuljo and Mohammad Ahsan on the other side of the court, Satwik-Chirag played a nerve-wracking thriller that teased out over another three games.
Creating a lot of nail-biting moments and packing in a lot of drama, what with Satwik also being shown the yellow card in the match, the Indian pair showed class and calmed their nerves to take out the veterans with a flying cross-court winner from Chirag Shetty to seal the deal, 18-21, 23-21, 21-19 and give India a 2-0 lead.
Coming into play the third game and second singles match for India, Kidambi Srikanth showed his fluency against a struggling Jonatan Christie. The Indian was looking in control with his momentum and played on crosscourt to put his opponent under pressure. Kidambi was in his usual mojo and bagged the first game by 21-15. The second game took off with Kidambi faltering in to keep the shuttle inside on multiple occasions. It gave some initial advantage to Christie. He, however, worked on his defence and levelled the game at 7-7.
The Indian kept playing very close to the net and burst into occasional angular smashes that took him to a three-point advantage at the mid-game interval. Again a chain of faults by Kidambi kept Christie winning 5 consecutive points after the interval and the score was levelled at 13-13. Christie eventually went on to take a lead of 16-13. Kidambi fought back past his errors and squared off again at 18-18. Two crosscourt set up to the rally brought Christie to move forth backhands and forehands. He made it to 19-19. The neck-to-neck contest ensued with Kidambi forcing Christie to drop two game points. Kidambi stretched to win the game 23-21.