BANGKOK (Reuters) -India’s men’s badminton team pulled off a major upset by crushing 14-times champions Indonesia 3-0 in the final on Sunday to win their maiden Thomas Cup title.
Lakshya Sen set the tone for the first-time finalists when he stunned Olympic bronze medallist Anthony Sinisuka Ginting in the first singles at the Impact Arena.
Satwiksairaj Rankireddy combined with Chirag Shetty for a similar come-from-behind victory over Mohammad Ahsan and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo in the first doubles.
Kidambi Srikanth tamed Jonatan Christie 21-15 23-21 in the second singles as India became only the sixth nation to win the coveted trophy.
After a 48-minute slugfest, Srikanth leapt to drill a crosscourt smash to Christie’s left.
The importance of his win was not lost on the 29-year-old who dropped his racket and let out a roar before being mobbed by his team mates who invaded the court.
India proved their knockout stage victories over five-times champions Malaysia and 2016 winners Denmark were no fluke as they produced another courageous display against the badminton powerhouse.
Sen typified that fight in his 8-21 21-17 21-16 victory against Ginting.
The 20-year-old was outplayed in the first game but he won the second and overcame a 7-11 deficit in the decider to prevail.
The first doubles match followed a similar script with Rankireddy and Shetty losing the first game.
They saved four match points in the second to roar back and prevailed 18-21 23-21 21-19.
Srikanth kept it simple by winning the first game in 19 minutes.
Christie put up more resistance in the second game but Srikanth’s reflexes at the net and calculated aggression ensured India won the final without dropping a match.
The victory sparked celebration back home with Prime Minister Narendra Modi leading the tributes.
“The Indian badminton team has scripted history! The entire nation is elated by India winning the Thomas Cup…” tweeted Modi.
India’s sports ministry has announced a cash prize of 10 million rupees ($129,000) for the squad.
South Korea’s women’s team ended their 12-year wait for an Uber Cup title with a 3-2 upset of defending champions China on Saturday.
($1 = 77.47 Indian rupees)
(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Ed Osmond)