Indian men’s team record historic triumph over Denmark to enter first final

With the match tied 2-2, HS Prannoy defeated Rasmus Gemke in the deciding match to give the Indian side a historic win over the 2016 champions.

The Indian team celebrate their historic victory over Denmark in the semi-finals of the Thomas Cup which secured them a silver medal. PA

bangkok: HS Prannoy produced a lionhearted effort in the decisive fifth game as the Indian men’s badminton team made history by reaching the title clash of the Thomas Cup final for the first time ever with a 3-2 victory in an edge of the semi-final place in Bangkok.

The Indian side, who never made it past the semi-finals after 1979, showed tremendous fighting spirit after a game against 2016 champions Denmark.

While world championship silver medalist Kidambi Srikanth and world double number 8 pair Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty kept India in the hunt, it was again left to HS Prannoy to lead the team back to home when the tie locked 2-2.

Facing world No. 13 Rasmus Gemke, Prannoy suffered an ankle injury after slipping on the front court on a comeback, but the Indian continued after taking a medical time-out.

He looked in pain and his movement on the pitch also seemed limited but even so he produced a sensational performance to get trumps 13-21 21-9 21-12 to etch India’s name in the history books.

It was a creditable performance from the Indian side, who ended a long 43-year wait on Thursday by reaching the semi-finals with a 3-2 win over five-time champions Malaysia, a feat last achieved. in 1979.

It was always going to be difficult for India to tame formidable Denmark, who became the first European country in history to win the title in 2016.

Much has rolled over world championship bronze medalist Lakshya Sen, given his recent win over Viktor Axelsen at the Super 300 German Open, but he couldn’t replicate his performance as the world number one scripted a comfortable 13-21 13-21 win over Denmark. a 1-0 lead.

Denmark decided to split their world number 9 pair of Kim Astrup and Anders Skaarup Rasmussen into two halves, with Astrup linking up with Mathias Christiansen in the first double.

However, Rankireddy and Shetty put in a gritty performance, holding back their nerves in the closing stages to beat Astrup and Christiansen 21-18 21-23 22-20 to bring India back into the contest.

The Indian pair faced five match points – two in game two and three in game three – before converting one to bring joy back to the Indian side.

With the tie locked at 1-1, world number 11 Srikanth and world number 3 Anders Antonsen engaged in a battle for supremacy in the second singles with the former going out on top with a gritty 21-18 12-21 21 result. -15 to give India lead 2-1.

India’s second combination of Krishna Prasad Garaga and Vishnuvardhan Goud Panjala, however, was no match for Anders Skaarup Rasmussen and Frederik Sogaard, losing 14-21 13-21 as the tie was tentatively tied at 2- 2 after the fourth game.

The experienced Prannoy then lost the opener but, unbelievably enough, led 11-1 in the second game, despite an injury. He depended more on his offense to rack up points even as Gemke failed to create pressure on the Indian.

Prannoy dominated the field before and quickly returned to competition with Gemke making too many mistakes.

Prannoy, ranked 13th, stamped his authority with his trademark shots as Gemke’s defense was in tatters. The Indian led 11-4 at the break and continued to dominate the proceedings.

As the Impact Arena rang out with chants of “HSP”, Prannoy caught nine match points with a straight smash down the line and sealed it at the second opportunity as his teammates huddled in celebration.

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