Indian badminton team scripts history, wins Thomas Cup for first time

India defeated 14-time champion Indonesia 3-0 in the final after wins from Lakshya Sen, Kidambi Srikanth, and doubles duo Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy.

The Indian badminton team created history on Sunday (May 15) by winning the Thomas Cup for the first time.

In the final in Bangkok, India defeated 14-time champion Indonesia 3-0. The historic gold was achieved thanks to wins from singles players Lakshya Sen, Kidambi Srikanth, and the doubles duo of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy.

India’s previous best performances at the tournament were the bronze medals in 1952, 1955, and 1979.

World Championships medallist Sen put India ahead in the title clash as he rallied from a game down to defeat world No. 5 Anthony Sinisuka Ginting 8-21, 21-17, 21-16.

Then, India made it 2-0 as Rankireddy and Shetty saved four match points in the second game to beat Mohammad Ahsan and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo 18-21, 23-21, 21-19.

In the second singles, Srikanth defeated Asian Games gold medallist Jonatan Christie 21-15, 23-21.

Reactions poured in on social media as they congratulated and hailed the performances of the Indian badminton players in Thailand.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote on Twitter, “The Indian badminton team has scripted history! The entire nation is elated by India winning the Thomas Cup! Congratulations to our accomplished team and best wishes to them for their future endeavours. This win will motivate so many upcoming sportspersons.”

Later, PM Modi spoke to the players by phone.

The Badminton Association of India (BAI) wrote on its Twitter handle, “HISTORY SCRIPTED. Pure show of grit and determination & India becomes the #ThomasCup champion for the 1st time in style, beating 14 times champions Indonesia 3-0 in the finals. It’s coming home!”

Indian women’s hockey team captain Rani Rampal, cricketer Virat Kohli, Indian football team skipper Sunil Chhetri, and former Indian tennis star Mahesh Bhupathi were among the many sportspersons who congratulated the players.

Coach’s reaction

“I have no words to describe it, we always had hopes but the way the players played, they just put up a performance out of the blue. It was really fantastic. We had such a poor record against Indonesia and to win 3-0 is incredible,” Indian team’s coach Vimal Kumar told PTI.

He added, “In 1983, when India won the cricket World Cup, the euphoria was something else but cricket was always a very popular sport and I hope with this performance, now badminton can also become so popular.

“It has always been about individual achievements but this was a team performance and I hope the popularity of the sports goes up from here on.”

Kumar rated this as Indian badminton’s biggest ever achievement.

“I will rate this the biggest ever. Of course, Prakash (Padukone) and Gopi (Pullela Gopichand) winning All England, (PV) Sindhu winning, all great achievements but as a team what we have done, we couldn’t deliver as a team (earlier). You call one a badminton nation when you win a team championships, so I will rate it as the best. I am happy that I could see this in my lifetime. It is a dream come true for me,” he told the news agency.

India, which had never reached the last-four stage since 1979, ended up getting the better of formidable Malaysia and Denmark en route to the summit clash in this edition of the tournament.

Needless to say, the triumph on the day when it mattered the most sparked off wild celebrations in the Indian camp, less than 48 hours after they rejoiced their win over Denmark.

In the 73-year history of the Thomas Cup, India became the sixth country to win the title. Indonesia leads the table with 14 titles followed by China (5), Malaysia (4), Japan (1) and Denmark (1).

Cash awards

Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur congratulated the team and announced a cash award of ₹1 crore to the team.

Also, the BAI has announced ₹1 crore to the team and ₹20 lakh to the support staff.

“It’s a very proud moment for Indian badminton. We have had many individual triumphs but winning the Thomas Cup crown is very special. This shows the depth of talent we have among the men and full credit to the players and coaching staff for giving their ultimate best through this week and beating some of the biggest badminton powerhouses on their way to the title win,” BAI president Himanta Biswa Sarma said.

“A proud moment for every Indian. To celebrate this momentous occasion, on behalf of a grateful nation Badminton Association of India is honoured to announce a prize money of Rs 1 crore for our players and Rs 20 lakhs for our support staff. We look forward to several such national accomplishments in the coming months & years,” Sarma, who is Assam Chief Minister, added.

The total prize money for the tournament including singles and doubles was $1 million. India will get $120,000 for the title triumph.

India’s route to the title

Beat Germany 5-0

Beat Canada 5-0

Lost to Chinese Taipei 2-3

Quarter-finals: Beat Malaysia 3-2

Semi-finals: Beat Denmark 3-2

Final: Beat Indonesia 3-0

India’s Thomas Cup-winning squad

Singles: Kidambi Srikanth, Lakshya Sen, HS Prannoy, Priyanshu Rajawat.

Doubles: Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, Krishna Prasad Garaga and Vishnuvardhan Goud, Dhruv Kapila and MR Arjun.

(With inputs from Agencies)