Can India win the Thomas Cup 2022? That could be a query that usually torments the minds of the elite gamers who symbolize India, each time the Cup comes across the nook.
However barring three events, the place we reached inter-zonal finals and received bronze medals for our efforts, we’ve got been, ourselves as gamers, and because the sports-loving individuals of India. In 1952, which was the second version of the Thomas Cup, India reached the inter-zonal finals after being a high group of the Asian Zone. India defeated Thailand and Australia, with related rating traces, 9-0.
In these years, the Cup was fought over two days with 5 singles and 4 doubles matches. There was reverse in each, singles and doubles. In 1952, India, after defeating Thailand and Australia, performed Denmark within the semifinals on the inter-zonal in Singapore. And we gained 6-3 towards the Danes and certified to play the USA within the finals.
The winner right here earned the precise then to problem Malaysia for the Cup. This was known as the problem spherical. Malaysia was licensed because the world’s greatest group. However we misplaced 4-5 to the Individuals.
Within the subsequent version, India once more gained the Asian zone defeating a robust Thai group 6-3. Within the semifinals, we beat USA 6-3 however we failed once more, dropping out to the mighty Danes 3-6.
The following time we received a bronze medal was within the 1978-79 version. We defeated Sri Lanka 9-0 in a match performed in Hyderabad, then received a walkover from Pakistan, to then arrange a date with Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia was the primary group on the earth. Within the earlier two editions of 1952 and 1955, it was our singles gamers like TN Seth, Amrit Lal Dewan and the magical Nandu Natekar have been in a position to weave their silken abilities and so they managed to convey India to this point.
After which the nation needed to wait until the 1978-79 version, some 24 years later earlier than we may break the jinx. And this time a scintillating show in doubles gained the tie for India. Each our pairs, Prakash Padukone and Uday Pawar, and Pradeep Gandhe and yours actually gained each the doubles on the primary day to place immense stress on the hosts. We triumphed 5-4 lastly and gained the Asian Zone gold for India and the group then marched to the inter-zonal finals the place we misplaced to Denmark however received a bronze medal for our endeavours.
So what has the Thomas Cup in retailer for our courageous hearts after they journey to Bangkok for the 2022 version of this group match? Indonesia in fact has been the most important winner, successful the trophy 14 instances.
Allow us to take the seven greatest groups and see how we could fare. The groups are Denmark, Indonesia, China, Japan, Korea, Malaysia and Thailand. So allow us to see the possible outcome towards these groups.
I’ve taken present world rankings as the principle barometer and in addition head-to-head leanings.
And it is very important notice right here that as per BWF guidelines, top-ranked gamers need to compete towards one another. So Lakshya Sen, for instance, will at all times play the primary singles as a result of he, at world no.9, is at the moment the highest-ranked Indian participant as per the most recent world rankings listing issued by the BWF on 16 April. He can’t play within the second or third slots. Decrease gamers can in fact transfer up. So HS Prannoy can play within the third and even within the first slot. Equally, Saisatwik Rankareddy and Chirag Shetty can play the primary doubles solely. And the format is singles/doubles/singles/doubles adopted by the third singles.
India for my part is probably essentially the most balanced group within the fray. And with our gamers raring to go, I’ve a sneaky, however, constructive feeling that this time Indian anthem will likely be performed on the prize ceremony. Dhruv Kapila and MR Arjun have been the excellent, unbeaten pair within the BAI choice. This pair didn’t lose a single match. They are going to begin with the place that they had left. On the Sudirman Cup final 12 months, in absence of Chirag and Rankireddy, Arjun and Dhruv had borne the duty of enjoying the doubles and had actually performed effectively.
They’ve the expertise now of enjoying on the highest stage. And they’re clearly in sharp kind.
So allow us to take groups one after the other, beginning with Denmark, who we’ve got defeated solely as soon as, approach again in 1952. And although Sen defeated the highest Dane Viktor Axelsen within the German Open, I’ll nonetheless say that Viktor has received the higher hand and can give Denmark the primary level towards us. However India can create historical past. The second singles is 50/50 when Kidambi Srikanth takes on Anders Antonsen, the world quantity 3. If Kidambi goes all out with the identical kind we noticed on the world championship then we will equalise, however nonetheless, I’ll give the purpose to Denmark. Although the final time they performed, Kidambi gained an actual tight battle on the Swiss Open in March this 12 months successful 21-19, 19-21, 22-20. However the Indian ace misplaced to Anderson on the earth tour finals and the Indonesian Masters final 12 months.
The third singles with Prannoy taking up Rasmus Gemke ought to come to us although the Dane, at 13, is increased ranked than the Indian who’s at the moment on the twenty third spot. Prannoy defeated Gemke the final time the 2 met on the world championship final 12 months in an epic battle of 76 minutes 16-21, 21-8, 22-20. Prannoy is a category act and barring Viktor he has defeated each different high shuttler. He beat Taufiqe Hidayat on the India Open 4 years again and in addition confirmed a fast exit to legendry Lin Dan within the first spherical of the Indonesian Open in 2018.
Although our high doubles pair of Rankireddy and Shetty misplaced to Anders Skaarup and Kim Astrup 16-21, 5-21 on the world tour finals, Rankireddy was carrying a knee damage. However, of late, they’ve been in high kind and have zoomed in rankings and are at the moment world no.7, towards the tenth ranked Danes.
Within the second doubles, the subsequent Danish pair are ranked 55 and 56 in world rankings, far beneath our No. 2 pair of Dhruv and Arjun who’re at 39. So I can predict that India can win 4-1, if Kidambi wins his tie. And we will nonetheless win 3-2 even when we lose the 2nd singles.
The following opponents will likely be Japan, and Sen ought to be capable of defeat Kento Mamota, the world No.2. The final time the 2 met was on the earth tour finals the place Sen gained. Two weeks earlier than this victory, Sen had misplaced 6 sport factors to crash out towards Momota 21-23, 15-21 within the Indonesian Masters at Bali. The highest Indian has improved rather a lot prior to now 4 months has reached the finals of each the German and All England Opens. The identical is the case with Kidambi. He misplaced three years again to Kanta Tsuneyama. Kidambi is a big-ticket occasion participant. In final one 12 months, he has improved rather a lot and I believe he ought to put it throughout Tsuneyama. Prannoy will win towards Kenta Nishimoto. So in singles, we’ve got an opportunity to win all three, but when the surety is to be given then I really feel it will likely be Sen and Prannoy. And we’ve got to win one of many doubles at the least. The Japanese have been doing effectively on this occasion. Simply to indicate their energy within the doubles, their pairs are ranked 4, 5 and 6 in world rankings.
Rankireddy and Chirag need to play a really affected person sport, however aggressive on the identical time, to carve out a win towards the highest Japanese pair of Takuro Hoki and Yugo Kobayashi. The final time the 2 met was in 2019 and the Indian pair misplaced narrowly 21-17, 16-21, 17-21. We will defeat the Japanese 3-2 however we’ve got to journey on the broad shoulders of our high doubles pair.
India versus Malaysia may finish in a 3-2 in our favour. They will win the primary singles of Lee Zhi Jia, however right here additionally I really feel Sen could have a 60: 40 likelihood of successful. However even when he losses, we will win the two and three singles. The primary doubles ought to come to us. Rankireddy and Chirag misplaced a really shut 3-setter towards Ong Yew Sin and Teo Ee Yi. So very vital that Sen performs a stellar position right here and leads from the entrance.
Many individuals I talked to whereas scripting this piece advised me that each Kidambi and Prannoy are outdated for singles as they’re 29 and 30 years of age.
I’ll solely remind them that Alan Budikusuma gained the Olympic gold at 30, whereas present BWF president Poul-Erik Høyer Larsen gained the Olympics gold when he was 31.
All of it will depend on your stage of health. I’m certain that Kidambi and Prannoy will make additional efforts to be tremendous match for this as soon as in a lifetime likelihood to carry the cup..
In opposition to Indonesia, we should be very persistent and affected person. Their two pairs are World no. 1 and a pair of. It took Rankireddy and Chirag a very long time earlier than they caged the pair of Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan to win a hard-fought skirmish on the finals of India Open this 12 months 21-16, 26-24. India can win all three singles because the Indonesians aren’t as robust as within the time of Liem Swie King and Rudy Hartono. And within the pair of Marcus Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya, they’ve very harmful specialists, who’ve defeated our duo each time and lead 11-0 in head-to-head, together with the 21-12, 21-13 drubbing they received in Tokyo Olympics. It’s crucial subsequently that we win all three singles ties. And we’ve got an excellent likelihood. Lakshya just lately hammered Anthony Ginting, the highest Indonesian participant, 21-7, 21-9. He can repeat the identical efficiency. Nevertheless, Kidambi misplaced to Jonathan Christie within the Swiss open semifinals in three video games.
Tommy Sugiarto the Indonesian No 3 has additionally misplaced to Prannoy. Final they confronted one another within the 2019 New Zealand Open. Indonesia has 60: 40 probabilities within the doubles, whereas India can win two singles matches. It could come all the way down to the sport of Kidambi. So it may go 3-2 both approach.
Let’s see how the tie can go towards China. The highest Chinese language is meant to be Chen Lengthy, ranked 6 in world rankings. However he has not performed or seen in any match for greater than a 12 months. However since he’s the highest-ranked Chinese language we’ve got no alternative however to see him play towards Sen. However assuming if he doesn’t play, Shi Yu Wi will likely be moved up. This participant has misplaced to different Indians like Sameer Verma, Sai Praneeth, and so on. My intestine feeling is that if Sen performs Shi Wi, the Indian will win.
Kidambi will then tackle LU Guang Zu whom he has defeated many instances, together with as just lately because the German Open this 12 months. I truly see India successful all three singles as a result of although Prannoy had not performed Huang Xiong just lately, however he had crushed the Chinese language a couple of instances in 2018 and 2019.
Within the males’s doubles, we’ve got a proportion likelihood of successful the match of RankiReddy and Chirag Shetty towards the highest Chinese language pair of He Ji Ting and Tan Quang, ranked 18 as in comparison with the seventh for the Indians. Rankireddy and Chirag had defeated the Chinese language pair in two video games within the final Thomas Cup.
So a 3-2 win over China is possible. However the Indians should sweep the singles which they’re able to.
Let’s now tackle the Koreans. Sadly for them, the Koreans have misplaced the spark in singles. So gorgeous had been their withdrawal from high world singles, that at this time, sadly the one Korean within the high 50 ranks is Heo Kwanghee, who should play Sen within the first singles.
They’ve met solely as soon as and the Korean defeated Sen within the quarterfinals of the French Open final 12 months. However the Indian is in a a lot better house now after scalping world champ within the India Open, Olympic champion Axelsen within the German Open and final 12 months’s All England champ, Lee Zhi Lia, within the semifinals of All England this 12 months.
In actual fact, India ought to wrap up the tie 3-0 and name it a day, however it will likely be fascinating to see how Rankireddy and Shetty sort out the Koreans Choi Sul Gyu and Search engine optimisation Secungjlae. Search engine optimisation used to associate Jang Minyank until final 12 months. This new pairing is ranked 12.
My crystal ball says we’ll win 4-1 towards this as soon as mighty group.
Final however not least is the house group of Thailand, led by Vitidsarn Kunlavut who will strive his greatest to defeat the massive names and lead his nation to glory.
This three-time world junior champion has had a number of battles with Sen, the final one being on the German Open finals the place an especially exhausted Sen, additionally affected by boiling blisters on his left foot, due to the marathon match towards the Olympic champion in his semifinals, simply caved within the finals.
Sen and Vitidsarn have performed a large number of matches proper from junior days and are nearly equal in a head-to-head comparability. However in Bangkok, the Thai participant could have an higher hand in entrance of his residence crowd. Will probably be a keenly awaited confrontation.
However Kidambi should not have any issues towards 21 ranked Kantaphon Wangcharoen and Prannoy must also pull by with out a lot sweat towards Sitthikom Thammasin, although 3 years again in Malaysia Open this Thai shuttler had gained in three video games. Prannoy is a vastly improved participant now, particularly within the final 12 months or so.
However even when he misplaced, we’ll win each the doubles. At one time Thailand had good doubles combos however not anymore. Their greatest is 39 ranked Supak Jomkoh and Kittinupong Kendral adopted by the 54th ranked Bidin Isara and Maneepong Jongjit.
Each the doubles are winnable so far as India is anxious. So it may be 4-1 to India however let’s make it 3-2 to be protected.
This group is by far essentially the most balanced group India has ever fielded in any Thomas Cup, or for that matter in any males’s group championship in our historical past. The primary three singles specialists are world-class. They’ve crushed all different gamers on the planet and have supreme confidence of their skills. The primary doubles pair of Rankireddy and Shetty at world no.7, can take the battle to any opponent. Arjun and Dhruv are match sharp and should be raring to go. These gamers have the expertise and self-belief that they will win below any circumstances.
They’ve to fireplace on all cylinders. Historical past will likely be created in Bangkok and the tri-colour will likely be unfurled, to the tunes of the nationwide anthem. The group has to simply get its act collectively. Final phrase to Shetty, one half of the magical doubles duo. “We’re going to do effectively. Our singles gamers are excellent and time examined, with the precise angle. For doubles, we’re actually completely happy that Denmark’s legendary Mathias Boe is again teaching us. We’re shaping up very well and look ahead to the Thomas Cup. We’re actually a balanced group with good depth. I solely pray that nobody will get injured; we’re match sharp. And can play our hearts out to indicate the world that India is lastly rising as a superpower of the sport.”