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Thomas Cup: Shuttlers take India to semis-finals after ages

The team, which has not won a medal at the event since 1979, are assured of at least a bronze at the tournament
HS Prannoy on Thursday.
HS Prannoy on Thursday.

PTI   |   Bangkok   |   Published 13.05.22, 12:59 AM

The Indian men’s badminton team scripted a memorable 3-2 win over Malaysia to enter the semi-finals of Thomas Cup for the first time in 43 years but the women’s side bowed out after losing 0-3 to Thailand in the Uber Cup here on Thursday.

India are thus assured of at least a bronze at the Thomas Cup. The country has not won a medal at the event since 1979.

India had bagged three bronze medals in the past when they reached inter-zonal finals. However, it is the first time since the change in the qualifying format the country will win a medal at the prestigious tournament.

Up against a team that has won the title five times, the world No. 8 pairing of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, Kidambi Srikanth and HS Prannoy rose to the occasion to see India home.

A lot of expectation rode Lakshya Sen but he couldn’t go the distance in the opening singles, losing 21-23 9-21 to reigning world champion Lee Zii Jia in 46 minutes.

With the Malaysian fans thronging the Impact Arena, Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy dished out a superlative performance to outwit world no. 13 Goh Sze Fei and Nur Izzuddin 21-19, 21-15 to bring India back in the five-match tie.

It was an all-out attack in the final phase of the second game which saw the Indian pair set up five match points with Chirag converting with a smash, leaving the Indian camp all pumped up.

Srikanth rode his superior and varied strokeplay to outclass NG Tze Yong 21-11, 21-17 and give India a 2-1 lead.

The world No. 45 combination of Krishna Prasad Garaga and Vishnuvardhan Goud Panjala were handed the task of taming Aaron Chia and Teo Ee Yi and the Indian pair produced a good effort before losing 19-21, 17-21 as the match went into the decider.

World No. 23 HS Prannoy was all fired up in the final contest as he handled the pressure to erase an 1-6 deficit early in the first game to eventually canter to a 21-13, 21-8 win over 22-year-old Jun Hao Leong as India completed a fantastic come-from-behind victory.

Earlier, PV Sindhu fought hard before losing to Ratchanok Intanon as the Indian women’s team crashed out of the Uber Cup after being drubbed 0-3 by Thailand in the quarter finals.

World No 7 Sindhu was off colour for the second consecutive day as she squandered a one-game lead to go down 21-18, 17-21, 12-21 against Intanon, ranked eighth, in a 59-minute first women’s singles match.

The defeat means Sindhu now trails Intanon 4-7 on head-to-head record.

India were down 0-2 when the women’s doubles pair of Shruti Mishra and Simran Singhi lost 16-21, 13-21 against the Thai pair of Jongkolphan Kititharakul and Rawinda Prajongjai.

It was no better for Aakarshi Kashyap. She surrendered 16-21, 11-21 to Pornpawee Chochuwong in the second singles match that lasted 42 minutes, as Thailand completed a 3-0 thrashing.

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