The Indian men’s badminton team created history by beating Denmark 3-2 in the Thomas Cup semi-finals at the Thomas and Uber Cup 2022 in Bangkok, Thailand on Friday.
The win helped India make the Thomas and Uber Cup final for the very first time. Previously, Indian men had reached the Thomas Cup semis in 1952, 1955 and 1979 while the women’s team clinched bronze at two editions - 2014 and 2016.
India, playing their first Thomas Cup semis in 43 years, kicked off their final four fixture at the Impact Arena with Lakshya Sen, ninth in the badminton world rankings, facing off against world No. 1 and Olympic champion Viktor Axelsen.
This was the two shuttlers' third clash of the year. While the Indian youngster shocked the Danish ace in the German Open semis in March, Axelsen picked up the win in the All England Open final later that month.
The Indian shuttler started the match well but Axelsen soon took charge and cruised to a comfortable win in the first game.
Lakshya Sen managed to produce some breathtaking moments in the second game but was not consistent enough to worry the Dane, who wrapped up the first rubber 21-13, 21-13 in 49 minutes.
India’s top doubles players Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, though, got India back into the tie, beating Kim Astrup and Mathias Christiansen 21-18, 21-23, 22-20 in an hour and 17-minute-long marathon.
After winning a hard-fought opening game, the Indian duo squandered two match points in the second as the Danes forced a decider.
Kim Astrup and Mathias Christiansen looked favourites to complete a come-from-behind victory after taking an 8-5 lead early into the third game but the Indian duo, spurred by an exceptional patch of play by Chirag, turned it around and brought India level at 1-1.
India then took the lead in the tie for the first time with Kidambi Srikanth beating fellow world championships silver medallist Anders Antonsen 21-18, 12-21, 21-14.
The match was an intriguing contest with the Indian recovering from a slow start to take the first game. The Dane hit back, attacking Srikanth at the back court to come roaring back in the second.
Srikanth took the lead in the decider but Antonsen almost caught up before the former world No. 1 broke away and secured the win.
Denmark levelled the score to 2-2 after Anders Skaarup Rasmussen and Frederik Sogaard downed Krishna Prasad and Vishnuvardhan Panjala
With the final singles tie set up as the decider, HS Prannoy, who had produced a clutch win against Malaysia in the quarters, stepped up against Rasmus Gemke.
Though suffering an ankle injury early in the contest, Prannoy produced a remarkable 13-21, 21-9, 21-12 come-from-behind victory to see India past the finish line.
India will play Indonesia in Sunday’s final.
The women’s team from India was knocked out of the Uber Cup in the quarter-final stage.