The Indian men's badminton team defeated Indonesia 3-0 to lift the Thomas Cup for the first time - the scoreline might suggest dominance, but that was not the case at all. First, Lakshya Sen and then Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty came from behind to win their matches. Kidambi Srikanth also endured a tough second game before snatching victory.
Here are a few moments of genius from the finale that underline how the Indian players pulled off a historic win with their brilliance:
Lakshya Sen's turnaround (part 1)
Lakshya Sen lost the opening game 21-8 against Anthony Sinisuka Ginting but this was merely an aberration rather than a sign of things to come. Lakshya turned it around by winning the second game 21-17 but there was a moment which defined how Lakshya was well and truly back after the drubbing in the opening game.
Lakshya was leading 8-5 in the second game when both players were involved in a thrilling rally. Lakshya displayed the best of his defensive and retrieval skills to stay in the 42-shot rally and eventually ended up winning the point after Ginting's shot went wide. A marathon of a point that surely aided Lakshya's confidence.
Lakshya Sen's turnaround (part 2)
Lakshya didn't have the best of starts in the third game and he was behind 7-11 at the mid-game interval. The players changed ends and that's when Lakshya went on a point-winning spree. He won four of the next five points and clinched a superb winner from a cross-court smash to make it 12-12 in the decider. Ginting was able to collect only four more points after this as Lakshya won the game 21-16.
From trailing by four points at the break to winning 14 of the next 19 points... Match over and India take 1-0 lead.
- BWF (@bwfmedia) May 15, 2022
Satwik-Chirag save four match points
Mohammad Ahsan and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo, one-half from the 'Daddies' and 'Minions' duos, are one of the best doubles players in the sport. Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty have done incredibly well as a pair in the tournament, but this match was as tough as it gets.
Despite a confident start by Satwik-Chirag, Ahsan and Sukamuljo took the opening game 21-18. The second game was an absolute rollercoaster. At the interval, India were leading 11-6 but their opponents raised their level to win a slew of points and made it 14-19, just two points away from winning the match.
Satwik-Chirag saved as many as three match points to make it 20-20 and saved one more to bring the scoreline to 21-21. In the end, a Rankireddy winner made it 23-21 and the match went into a decider.
The third game was a nail-biter once more, with the score reaching 18-18. Satwik-Chirag then gained two match points and converted the second one to complete a remarkable come-from-behind victory.
Srikanth's sensational reflexes
Srikanth had played five matches in the tournament before his crucial encounter against Jonatan Christie and had won them all. His fine form was on display once again when he took the opening game 21-15.
The second game started on an intense note, with both players being tied at 7-7 when Srikanth produced a moment of brilliance that showed that he was making the most of his form. At 7-7, Christie tried to kill a point at the net but Srikanth's super-sharp reflexes allowed him to return the shot and it ended up being a winner. "I don't believe it," said the commentator and it was an apt reaction. This moment helped him to take a three-point lead at the mid-game interval.
Srikanth seals it
A few errors from Srikanth post the interval in the second game and Christie was back in it. The score read 19-19 when Christie hit a drop shot winner to make it 20-19. But Srikanth didn't panic and responded with a superb play at the net to make it 20-20.
The final shot of the match was a cross-court smash by Srikanth, befitting his form and experience as India became the champions for the first time.