The Indian men's badminton team scripted history when they secured their first-ever medal at the Thomas Cup with a thrilling 3-2 win over Malaysia in the quarterfinals in Bangkok on Thursday.
The tie went down to the final match, in which HS Prannoy sealed India's semifinal spot with a 21-13, 21-8 win over Jun Hao Leong in the third singles match after the quarterfinal was tied at 2-2. Earlier, Kidambi Srikanth and the doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty had clinched wins for India.
All semifinalists at the Thomas & Uber Cup Finals - badminton's team world championships - are assured of medals in the new format. India will face Denmark, led by world No 1 Viktor Axelsen, in the semifinal. The Danes beat South Korea 3-2 in a late match.
A day after their narrow 2-3 loss to Chinese Taipei in the final group game, India started on the back foot with Indian No. 1 Lakshya Sen going down to Lee Zii Jia in the opening game. The Indian started strong and had game points in the first game before the Malaysian stepped on the gas for a 23-21, 21-9 win.
With India trailing 0-1, the world No 8 pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty produced an inspired performance to beat Sze Fei Goh and Nur Izzuddin 21-19, 21-15 in straight games. A pumped-up Kidambi Srikanth followed that victory with a 21-11, 21-17 over Tze Yong Ng in just over 41 minutes, thus giving India a 2-1 lead.
The fourth tie fell to the relatively inexperienced pair of Krishna Prasad Garaga and Vishnuvardhan Goud Panjala, whose victory in the selection trials saw them earn a spot in the Thomas Cup team. But despite a spirited performance, they lost 19-21, 17-21 to Aaron Chia and Ee Yi Teo. The victorious duo are not regular partners on tour but came together to keep Malaysia alive.
With the tie levelled 2-2, it came down to world No 23 HS Prannoy, who faced off in the decider against world number 124 Jun Hao Leong. The Indian was coming off an injury layoff and had received an exemption from the trials due to his recent results. The former Top 10 player used all his experience to win in straight games, as the rest of the Indian team rushed on court to celebrate with the Indian flag.
A team that went with a mission and the historic milestone is crafted by ensuring the 1st ever #ThomasCup2022 medal only vendictates the decision to select the best shuttlers to represent����including @PRANNOYHSPRI
- BAI Media (@BAI_Media) May 12, 2022
India has reached semi-finals of the event before, in 1952, 1955 and 1979, according to the Badminton World Federation, but the system for medals was different back then.
Earlier in the day, the Indian women's team saw their Uber Cup campaign come to swift end as they went down 0-3 to Thailand in the quarterfinals.