Thomas Cup: India up against strong Indonesia in historic final

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The injury to singles player H.S Prannoy will be a matter of concern as India gear up to take on 14-time champions Indonesia in a maiden, historic final in the Thomas Cup team badminton championship here on Sunday.

India had defeated Malaysia and Denmark by identical 3-2 margins in the quarterfinals and semifinals to storm into the final for the first time in the history of the tournament.

Prannoy played a crucial role in both those rubbers. Prannoy, who had suffered a nasty slip in the match deciding encounter with Rasmus Gemke after India had fought back to level the rubber 2-2.

World and Olympic champion Viktor Axelsen had given Denmark, a 1-0 lead by beating Lakshya Sen. But the double combination of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty defeated Kim Astrup and Mathias Christiansen in three games to make it 1-1 and then Kidambi Srikanth beat Anders Antonsen in hard-fought three games to make it 2-1 for Inia.

However, the Danish pair of Anders Skaarup Rasmussen and Frederik Sogaard beat Krishna Prasad Garaga and Panjala Vishnuvardhan Goud in straight games to make it 2-2 and take the rubber into the decider.

However, Prannoy, despite the injury, came up with a brilliant performance to subdue Rasmus Gamke in three, coming back after losing the first game to script a historic achievement for India.

In Sunday’s final, India take on Indonesia, who edged out China 3-2 in the other semifinal.

If the Indians win the title, it will truly be a historic moment for the sport of badminton as India will become only the sixth country ever to win the Thomas Cup title. Only Indonesia, China, Malaysia, Denmark and Japan have won the title in the prestigious event since its format was changed and China started participating in 1982.

But India face a tough ask against Indonesia, the most successful country in Thomas Cup history with 14 titles.

The current Indonesia team is quite strong and they proved their mettle by prevailing over China in the semis.

World No 5 Anthony Sinisuka Ginting will lead their charge against Lakshya Sen, who is ranked 9th in BWF Rankings, in the first singles.

They have a strong first doubles pair of Mohammad Ahsan and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo, who with their respective regular partners Hendra Setiawan and Marcus Fernaldi Gideon form the top two men’s doubles pairs in BWF World Rankings and though Rankireddy and Shetty are one of the most improved doubles pair in recent times, they will have to be at their best to overcome the Indonesian pair.

Kidambi Srikanth will definitely hold the edge over Indonesia’s second singles player — Jonathan Christie, it will all depend on the second doubles pair and Prannoy if India has to make it the most memorable day in its badminton history.

But the Indians are upbeat after winning two close encounters and making a historic final and they want to go on and annex the title.

“We aren’t done yet. Let’s keep going!,” Chirag Shetty tweeted on Saturday as he urged the Indian community in Bangkok to reach the Impact Arena in large numbers to support the Indian team in its historic pursuit.

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