By Major General PK Mallick, (Retd.)
Whenever the history of Indian sports is written, today’s victory in Badminton World Team Championship, Thomas Cup will be written in golden letters. History is made. India never got into the Thomas Cup medal round. India are now the sixth country in the 65-year history of the Thomas Cup to win.
India entered the tournament as the fifth pick. They lost to Taiwan in the league. But there were indications of India’s strong performance.
India’s number one single player and world number nine Laksh Sen suffered from food poisoning at the start of the tournament. According to the format, each team ranks number one in their first singles match. Lakshya Sen has lost three of his singles matches against many high-profile opponents, including the world number one from Denmark. But there comes a time when the man comes to the finals. In the first singles match, Lakshya Sen was up against world number 4 Anthony Ginting. The first game was lost at eight. The second in 17 won. In the third, Sen was down and out and trailing 11-7. But the young star held his nerves, rallied brilliantly and led India to the final, beating Anthony Ginting 8-21, 21-17, 21-16. The goal so far has been to win nothing. He won the first match in the final of the number one fight. What a time to win.
The game begins
Sattviksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, India’s number one double pair, are not getting any credit. They have won all the important doubles matches in the quarter finals and semifinals. In today’s final, they were against the much talked about pair of Mohammad Ahsan and Kevin Sanjay Sukamuljo. They are number one and number two in the world in doubles with other teammates. The Indians lost the first game at 18. In the second game, the Indian pair was down and out. Match points were down at 20-17 and 21-20. The Indians miraculously saved four match points and won the game 23-21. India won the match by 19 runs in the third match full of excitement.
India leads 2-0
Then came the icing on the cake. India’s Kidambi Srikkanth has been criticized for India’s success in this year’s Thomas Cup. The former world number one has won all five of the matches he has played. After returning from injury, he has shown a determination that has not been seen often in the last few seasons. He had to dig deep to lift a crucial 21-18, 12-21, 21-15 victory over Anders Antonsen in the semifinals against Denmark. He was playing against Jonathan Christie, the current Asian Games gold medalist and the hero of Indonesia’s last Thomas Cup win. Christie has already lost to Srikanth twice this season. However, the way Srikkanth Kidambi is playing in this tournament has a calm air of confidence in the Indian camp.
In the first game it was a cat and rat game. The score was equal to 15. Kidambi then regained five points in a row to win at 15. India are one match away from the Thomas Cup.
Srikanth was leading 13-11 in the second game. Suddenly Christie won eight of the next nine points. Kidambi was trailing 16-18. Great Srikanth took control as Cucumber, saved a game point and won the game, match and Thomas Cup 21-15, 23-21; India beat 14-time champions Indonesia 3-0 in the final. Did you believe this scoreline before the start of the tournament?
Think of the exploitation of HS romance. The scores in the quarter finals and semifinals were both equal. Twice he won and took India to the next round. He injured his ankle in the semi-final against Denmark. There was no need for romance in the final!
See the scoreline against Denmark in the semifinals.
1st Doubles: Satviksairaj Rankireddy / Chirag Sethi wins 21-18, 21-23, 22-20 against Kim Astrup / Matthias Christianensen.
Second singles: Kidambi Srikanth 21-18, 12-21, 21-15 against Anders Antonsen.
Third singles: HS won the love Rasmas game 13-21, 21-9, 21-12.
This is the new India. Take a bow.
(The author is an Indian Army veteran. Published opinions do not reflect the official position or policy of Personal and Financial Express Online. Reproduction of this content without permission is prohibited).