May 15, 2022: India won its maiden Thomas Cup title, beating 14-time champion Indonesia 3-0 in the final in Bangkok.
World championships bronze medallist Lakshya Sen defeated Indonesia’s Anthony Sinisuka Ginting 8-21, 21-17, 21-16 in the first men’s singles to give India a 1-0 lead.
In the first doubles game, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty saved four match points before beating Mohammad Ahsan and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo 18-21, 23-21, 21-19 to extend India’s lead to 2-0.
World championships silver medallist Kidambi Srikanth edged Jonatan Christie 21-15, 23-21 in straight games in the second men’s singles match to seal India’s historic victory.
HIGHLIGHTS: Thomas Cup Final Live, India vs Indonesia: India beats Indonesia 3-0 to win maiden Thomas Cup title
India had previously reached the semifinals of the Thomas Cup in 1952, 1955 and 1979.
In the opening singles between Lakshya and Olympic bronze medallist Ginting, the Indonesian troubled the Indian early on with his tremendous speed on the court and took a 11-7 lead. Post the mid-game interval, Ginting continued with the same intensity winning 12 consecutive points before wrapping up the first game 21-8 in just 17 minutes.
However, it was Lakshya who started more strongly in the second game and lead 11-7 at the halfway stage. Ginting close the gap to make it 17-15. Almora-born shuttler Lakshya reeled of three points in a row and despite squandering two game points, levelled thing up at 8-21, 21-17.
READ: Lakshya Sen after beating Ginting: ‘I wasn’t worried… this is for the team’
Ginting, who had looked tired in the second game and made lots of reckless errors, steadied himself at the start of the decider. The Indonesian had a four-point lead at the halfway stage but All England Open runner-up Lakshya dug deep to restore parity at 12-12. From here on, it was the Indian who kept stretching his lead to eventually earn four match point opportunities at 20-16. He converted the first one itself to put India ahead.
After Lakshya’s win, Satwik and Chirag took the court in the first doubles against Ahsan and Sukamuljo. The Indian duo trailed by just two points at the mid-game interval in the opening game but the Indonesians suddenly got a bit of momentum and stretched their lead to six points at 17-11. Indian Open champions Satwik and Chirag closed the gap down to 18-19 only to see their opponents take the next two points to win the first game 21-18.
The Indian pair dominated the early stages of the second game and lead 11-6 at one point. Ahsan and Sukamuljo, like the first one, got on a roll to turn the second game on its head earning three match point chances at 20-17. The Indians dug deep to save all three and one more before stealing the second game 23-21.
FEATURE: How Satwik and Chirag won from multiple match points down
The final game was a close affair as both pairs failed to take a lead of more than three points at any stage. At 18-18, it was the Indian duo who won the next two points with a couple of cross court smashes. Ahsan saved one match point by attacking Sawtik and Chirag all on his own before Chirag’s cross court kill found the vacant left corner of the Indonesian half to win the match 18-21, 23-21, 21-19.
With the chance to kill the tie in the second singles itself, Srikanth started the tie against Asian championships runner-up Christie positively to take an 8-2 lead. However, the Indonesian shuttler wiped out Srikanth’s lead by winning the next six points. The two stayed neck-and-neck till 15-15 when Srikanth gave it back to Christie by clinching six consecutive points to close the opening game 21-15.
Srikanth, who did not lose a single match throughout the event, took the charge again in the second game to lead by three points at the mid-game interval. Christie, in a bid to keep Indonesia alive in the tie, upped the pace and came back from 10-13 to lead 16-13. Srikanth stayed calm under pressure and waited for Christie to make errors. At 19-19, Christie executed a beautiful drop shot to deceive Srikanth and get a game point. The Indian saved it with a fantastic cross-court backhand block. Christie had another shot at winning the second game when his quick reaction blocked Srikanth’s body smash to take him ahead 21-20.
Srikanth ended Christie’s hopes of taking it to a deciding third game by winning three points in a row including a glorious cross court smash at 22-21 to seal India’s maiden Thomas Cup title.
(This article was first published on May 15, 2022)