How India reached first ever Thomas Cup final with gritty win over Denmark

There was a second within the first sport of the decisive rubber of the Thomas Cup semi-final when it appeared like India would exit. HS Prannoy took a tumble lunging on the web and wanted medical consideration on his ankle. He grimaced, in apparent ache; then acquired up, shook himself off and went on to win the rubber, and match, for India – and script historical past – for the second day in a row.

India had made it to the Thomas Cup last for the primary time ever.

The Indian crew on the sidelines, dancing earlier than match level and speeding on to the courtroom after with a flag, underlined the importance of the win.

Prannoy, the previous world No 8, now ranked twenty third on the earth, was third selection in singles as per the rankings. But this comparatively decrease rating proved to be a bonus in itself… it meant that India’s destiny was within the arms of a digital veteran.

At the opposite finish was Rasmus Gemke, who like Prannoy, had clinched the ultimate rubber for his crew within the quarterfinal towards Korea.

Whether or not Prannoy’s harm performed an element, Gemke clinched the primary sport 21-13 when Prannoy hit a shot into the online, one other in a collection of unforced errors. But the tables turned within the second sport and the way. Prannoy stormed off to an early lead and constructed it as much as a stable 11-1 heading into the mid-game interval… an indication that the harm was not a serious setback. His willpower has at all times blazed brighter than his fixed bodily hindrances. He was attacking and incomes his factors along with his complete physique on the road.

It all got here all the way down to the ultimate sport after the pair cut up the primary two in a lopsided 21-13, 9-21 contest. In the decider, in some of the essential video games in Prannoy’s profession, he stormed to a sizeable lead, grabbing 4 straight factors earlier than Gemke acquired on board. However, the Indian had set the tone with the second sport and sealed the tie with a backhand cross courtroom that appeared easy solely as a result of he made us anticipate it.

History, made.

The Indian crew, which had by no means progressed previous the semifinals in three makes an attempt within the competitors’s 73-year historical past, fought again to beat 2016 champions Denmark, the primary European crew to ever win the occasion.

But for Prannoy to get the possibility to be accountable for India’s destiny, the opposite elements of this crew needed to fall in place. Simply put, India needed to win the primary doubles and second singles.

Lakshya Sen put his greatest foot ahead, however towards world No 1 Viktor Axelsen, it was not going to be straightforward for the younger, newly-minted India No 1. It was at all times going to fall to the expertise of Kidambi Srikanth and Prannoy within the singles. It was Sen’s excessive rating that made having this back-up plan doable. It was yet one more in a collection of occasions that put India on the verge of historical past. He misplaced 13-21 13-21 however not earlier than some good badminton, together with a online game like 62-shot rally that the Indian received.

After Sen’s loss, the onus was on Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty to get India on the board, to reside as much as their tag as one in all India’s greatest doubles pair shortly. They did simply that with a passionate, thrilling, loud and massively essential 21-18, 11-9, 22-20 win over Kim Astrup & Mathias Christiansen (however not earlier than squandering 5 match factors, two within the second sport). In hindsight, that additional sport added to the script of the 2 three-game wins to observe. No straightforward wins within the semis, proper?

Next up was former world No 1 and present India No 2 Kidambi Srikanth, towards world No 3 Anders Antonsen. With Srikanth, you by no means know what to anticipate. He overcame what looks like a customary blip he typically faces to win 21-18, 12-21, 20-14. It felt like a microcosm of his sport – soar smash sealing sport level, sudden lapse, discovering the contact once more. In a crew occasion, he delivered when it mattered, he gave India the lead and saved to the reasonable plan of a win.

Up subsequent had been the rookie doubles crew of Krishna Prasad Garaga and Vishnuvardhan Goud Panjala. They received the choice trials and earned their place, however the No. 45 ranked crew did not have the endurance for this degree.

Denmark had cut up their world quantity 9 pair of Kim Astrup and Anders Skaarup Rasmussen in a strategic transfer and it labored right here as they went all the way down to Anders Skaarup Rasmussen and Frederik Sogaard 21-14, 21-13. The semi-final was degree as soon as extra, and it was now headed to the place it at all times needed to… an exhilarating finale.

At the beginning of the semis, Prannoy had tweeted “This is it” with Sen’s photograph. About six hours later, it was he who ensured that this certainly, was it.

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