India storm into first-ever Thomas Cup final by beating a dominant Denmark 3-2
The Indian men's badminton team, led by Srikanth and Prannoy, created history as they defeated a strong Denmark side to book their place in the Thomas Cup finals for the first time and confirmed a silver medal.
The Indian men's badminton team created history as they squashed the challenge from Denmark in a 3-2 thriller to book their place in the finals of the Thomas Cup for the first time in 73 years of the World Team Championships' existence.
Led by Satwik-Chirag, Kidambi Srikanth and H.S. Prannoy, the Indian team created history as they have now guaranteed a shot at the gold medal at the Thomas Cup 2022.
Albeit World No. 9 Lakshya Sen faltered in the opener against World No. 1 and reigning Olympic gold medallist Viktor Axelsen, losing in straight games, 21-13, 21-13, the Indian team only used that loss to charge themselves up to more as the dynamic doubles duo of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty soon came out to change the narrative.
Getting India on the board after a tense match against the scratch pair of Kim Astrup and Mathias Christiansen, the pair of Satwik-Chirag had to dig slightly deep to get their way against the Danish duo. Although Satwik-Chirag maintained a high level throughout the match, there were signs of nerves in the closing moments of Game 2 when they ended up losing 3 match point opportunities.
Into the deciding game, the nerves once again crept in for the seasoned pair as they had to wait till the sixth match point to finally get the win after a gorgeous flick serve from Satwik dug the final nail in this match as they won, 21-18, 21-23, 22-20.
With Satwik-Chirag equalising the tie for India, Kidambi Srikanth only used that winning momentum as he crossed racquets with World No. 3, Anders Antonsen, in yet another nervous clash. Srikanth, who hadn't lost a single match previously in this edition of the Thomas Cup ensured that he was at his brutal and aggressive best against Antonsen, the bronze medallist from the World Championships.
After a brilliant first game, Srikanth lost momentum and committed an error too many for Antonsen to prey on and drag the match out into a decider. However, the match wasn't without its fair share of drama as Antonsen was clearly frustrated with the kind of rampage Kidambi was on and eventually tossed his racquet in the air twice - getting a yellow card and a warning too, on the second occasion.
Finally, Srikanth, with a thunderous roar, registered a dominant win, the third one in his career, against the Dane, winning 21-18, 12-21, 21-15 in a draining 1 hour 20 minutes clash. Srikanth became the first Indian man to win five matches in a single edition at the Thomas Cup, a feat that was achieved by both Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu in the 2014 Uber Cup.
The lead was soon foiled by India as the men's doubles pair of Krishna Prasad Garaga and Vishnu Panjala were outclassed by Anders Skaarup Rasmussen and Frederik Søgaard who levelled the tie at 2-2 with a 21-13, 21-14 win. The Danish pair proved to be too swift for the Indian youngsters who tried to give a good fight. The fixture was boiled down to a final game of men's singles where H.S. Prannoy took on Rasmus Gemke.
Gemke had the upper hand on Prannoy in the opening game. The Danish burst into frequent smashes after keeping Prannoy at bay with long rallies. Prannoy looked a bit weary in his approach. Prannoy injured himself badly in his leg after an ugly fall trying to hit a lofted shot by Gemke. He, however, showcased some commendable grit to come back on the court and fight. Trailing 4-11 at one point in time, Prannoy showed some brilliant resilience to bridge the gap to 10-15. The veteran, who played with an injury was relying heavily upon his placements to win points but fell short with his winners going wide. Gemke wrapped the opening game by 21-13 in 27 minutes.
Prannoy displayed a spirited comeback to take a four-point lead in the second game and build on it to create a 10-point advantage of 11-1 over Gemke at the interval. Gemke, who looked impatient kept on losing points because of several mistimed smashes, which hit on the nets. Prannoy held on to his nerves and roared back with a thumping 21-9 win in the second game. The match went down to a pulsating decider, which bound the fate of both the teams
The Indian was again clinical in his touch and took the six-point lead in the deciding game during the interval. The impeccable angular placements forced Gemke to commit regular errors and give away points. Prannoy kept the one-way traffic intact from the second game giving no chance for Gemke to get back in the game. He switched his gear playing at the centre of the court, despite the struggle with his foot. Amidst the blaring roar of the audience, Prannoy saw it through for India winning the final game by 21-12.