In one of Indian sports’ most memorable moments, the men’s badminton team defeated 14-time champions and holders Indonesia in the final on Sunday to earn their first Thomas Cup gold medal.
India, the tournament’s first-time finalists, stunned Indonesia 3-0 in the final to write history. Lakshya Sen, 20, started it all by defeating Anthony Ginting, bronze medalist at the Tokyo Olympics.
Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty then defeated Mohammad Ahsan and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo 18-21, 23-21, 21-19 to give India a 2-0 lead. Finally, Kidambi Srikanth completed India’s historic victory by defeating Jonatan Christie 21-15, 23-21.
It was India’s maiden appearance in the Thomas Cup final, and the team shown steely nerves throughout.
Sen had been thrashed 8-21 in the first game against Ginting. But he battled back to win the second game 21-17.
The Indian then put on a show in the third, stunning everyone with his cat-like quickness and tenacious defence to win the game 21-16.
Then Rankireddy and Shetty had the terrible task of facing Ahsan and Sukamuljo. The Indonesians won the first game 21-18.
They subsequently held a large lead in the second game, but Rankireddy-Shetty battled back to win it 23-21, saving four match points.
The final was a closely fought battle with nothing separating the two teams, but the Indians held their nerve to give the team a 2-0 lead.
Then it was Srikanth’s turn. The shuttler had been in excellent form throughout the competition and returned to the party.
He finished the first game against Christie in 19 minutes. Srikanth was leading 11-8 during the mid-break interval in the second game.
The Indonesian, on the other hand, rallied strongly to take a 16-13 lead, but Srikanth refused to give up.
Srikanth then saved a game point at 20-21 before clinching the game and the match for India.
“Could Be 1983 Moment For Badminton”
Messages of congratulations flooded in from all across the world following the historic victory. Former cricket captain Sunil Gavaskar congratulated the team on their first Thomas Cup victory.
Gavaskar also stated that this could be badminton’s “1983” moment. For the uninitiated, India won the Cricket World Cup for the first time in 1983, and the country’s love of sport has grown exponentially since then.
Gavaskar said: “I think it is such a wonderful day for badminton, I think this could be the 1983 moment for badminton because 1983, nobody expected us to win.
“Here, I am not saying nobody expected India to win because India in the last two years, has developed a fabulous badminton team but they were playing 14-time champions Indonesia, just that little bit of doubt.
“I am just so delighted, as I said, over the sun, over the moon. I am over all the planets. Well done guys.”