Asian shares    Temperatures in Makkah and holy sites between 30-44    Head of Qatari Hajj Mission Praises Saudi Arabia's Efforts in Serving Pilgrims    Thakher Makkah provides exceptional options and opportunities for visitors, investors Unique Project hosts pilgrims steps away from the Holy Mosque    OPEC Secretary General dies at age 63    Saudi Health Ministry's field tours detect 4,222 health violations in runup to Hajj    Boris Johnson fights for political survival as cabinet ministers quit    Mumbai: Heavy rains bring life to a standstill in Indian city    Twitter challenges India order to take down tweets    Arabs believe economy is weak under democracy: Survey    Carlos Santana: Legendary US guitarist collapses on stage    Weather Forecast for Wednesday    Chairman of Sudanese Sovereignty Council Meets with Ethiopian Prime Minister    300 Pilgrims with Disabilities Arrive in Jeddah    Indonesian vice president visits the Prophet's Mosque    Aramco expands Namaat industrial investment programs    Ons Jabeur advances to first GS semifinal in Wimbledon Open    Jail and fine for 10 foreigners, one Saudi in commercial fraud case    King, Crown Prince congratulate President of Malawi on Republic Day    India bans service charge at hotels and restaurants    Michael Sheen: I broke down hearing stories of Welsh children in care    Monsoon rains lash Pakistan; 6 killed    UK cinemas ban teens in suits over #gentleminions trend    KSrelief's Masam Project Dismantles 1,143 Mines in Yemen during One Week    France announces enhanced fee structure for streamed music    Zhou conscious after crash halts British Grand Prix    Al-Madinah Municipality: Establishing and Operating New Platforms for Charging Electric Cars in Al-Madinah Al-Munawwarah    Saudi National Squash Team Begins its Training Camp in Cairo    Saudia to Operate Weekly Flights to Barcelona in Cooperation with the Air Connectivity Program    Saudi Arabia Re-elected as Member of the Customs Policies and Financial Committees of the World Customs Organization    Semi-automated offside technology approved by FIFA for 2022 World Cup    Saudia Celebrates Launch of Seasonal Route From Riyadh to Mykonos    Saudi National Basketball Team Beats Indonesia in World Cup Qualifiers    Red Sea Fund Opens Its Third Cycle for Production Funding    SFDA Warns Against Herbal Product "Montalin Jamu" Due to Containing Active Medicinal Ingredients    Al-Hilal lifts MBS League title for 3rd time in a row, beating Al-Faisaly    Morocco and Iraq to the finals of Arab Futsal in Dammam on Tuesday    Saudi US Joint Exhibition on Photography Concludes in Tabuk    Makkah Municipality offers animal sacrifices permitting service through Baladi platform    First Saudi-American Joint Exhibition of Photography held in Tabuk Region    FIFA Accredits Saudi Football Association Among Expert Federations in VAR Tech    Samrat Prithviraj: Why did a Bollywood film on a popular Hindu king fail?    Saudi Council of Senior Scholars slams Indian ruling party leader's remarks against Prophet    Drug charges dropped against Shah Rukh Khan's son    Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques addresses citizens and all Muslims on the occasion of the Holy month of Ramadan    Pilgrims Perform Dhuhr and Asr Prayers at Arafat Holy Site    Council of Senior Scholars: Muslim Brothers' Group Don't Represent Method of Islam, rather only Follows its Partisan Objectives, Violating our Graceful Religion    Eid Al-Adha Prayer Performed at the Grand Holy Mosque    







Thank you for reporting!
This image will be automatically disabled when it gets reported by several people.



How cricket-crazy India scripted world badminton glory
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 17 - 05 - 2022

India's badminton team on Sunday stunned 14-time champions Indonesia at the men's finals for a historic win at the 2022 Thomas Cup. Sports journalist Susan Ninan reports on the significance of the title for a team that had never made it to the finals in the event's 73-year history.
On Sunday, India showed up to play in the final against Indonesia - the most successful country in the history of the team event - with an appetite for an unlikely win.
The India men's team has little tradition of success at the world championship in this sport. But their Thomas Cup win has all the makings of a defining sporting moment - rarity, incredulity and impact.
Singles player Lakshya Sen hustled from a game down against world number five Anthony Sinisuka Ginting to first put India in the lead at 1-0.
Next, doubles duo Satwik Sairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty came back from four match points down against three-time world champions Mohammad Ahsan and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo to bring the lead up to 2-0. Rankireddy and Shetty had previously lost to one half of this opposing pair 11 times in a row.
The final act was left to former world number one Kidambi Srikanth, who hadn't lost a match all week. Srikanth played the match of his life in this final - with gif-worthy reflex returns, signature smash-follow up charges and a final cross-court smash that will inhabit highlight reels for posterity.
The Thomas Cup is named after George Alan Thomas, an English player from the 1900s who proposed the idea of a championship tournament for badminton, borrowing from the World Cup in football and the Davis Cup in tennis.
Since the event began in 1948, India has qualified for only 13 of its 32 editions.
In the tournament's seven-decade-long history, the championship title has changed hands only among five nations - China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan and Denmark.
With its win on Sunday, India became only the sixth country ever to break into this elite club.
India entered the 16-nation team event earlier this month with its best men and a bold claim on the title on the players' WhatsApp chat group: "It's coming home".
The Indian players were perhaps the only side to turn up at the tournament in plain Yonex jerseys because the team doesn't have an official sponsor yet. (Maybe this win will inspire change and spark corporate interest.)
The team wasn't exactly an underdog, like Leicester City with its 5000-1 odds in the 2015 English Premier League. But neither were they the easy favourites.
They were in a comfortable place of being able to dream about a win without being complacent.
Through the next several days, India played against nations with greater pedigree - Malaysia and Denmark - and crossed the biggest hurdles - playing against top seeds and defending champions - to make its way to a historic spot in the finals.
In cricket-crazy India, badminton is still heavily based in the southern states, operating primarily out of its two major centres in Hyderabad and Bangalore cities.
The sport, which has given the country two Olympic medallists and two All England champions, is a testament to individual virtuosity.
So a team gold at the Thomas Cup, with 10 players filling the podium, speaks of the collective will and strength of the men's team in a sport where you're hardwired to always put yourself first.
The two senior-most Indian players, HS Prannoy and Kidambi Srikanth, worked consciously to build this through communication and belief.
"I've never been a part of such a team in my career," Prannoy told the BBC. "Week after week, when you're playing for yourself, it's sometimes tough to suddenly think as a group or let go of personal ambitions.
"Srikanth and I decided early on to hold team meetings of our own with the players where everyone gets to speak," he explained. "There were quite a few quiet players in the side and in a team event made up of individual sport players, egos can quickly fester. It's happened in the past.
"There are no ranking points to be won, no prize money, it's just your hunger for the title. It's what everyone wanted, and that fire drove us," Prannoy said.
On Sunday, players vaulted over advertising boards to rush onto the court and celebrate after India won the title. But team manager Vimal Kumar followed behind gingerly, swept up in a whirl of emotions.
A former national coach, Kumar had been discreetly working behind the scenes to prop up a generation of new players.
The coach belongs to an era of Indian badminton where singles heroes had to show up for doubles matches because there weren't enough specialists. The Thomas Cup title had been a dream too far.
"I held that trophy in my hands just to tell myself it's actually happened. If you ask me, I would place this win above every Olympic and All England title we've won. Simply because we won this as a team through collective effort and belief," he said.
Over the past decade, it's the women - Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu - who have been at the front and centre of Indian badminton.
The men, though steeped in talent, have largely been under the radar. Lately, there have been signs of a renaissance, with the men taking the World Championships and All England podiums. And now, Thomas Cup champions.
This week the female players, led by Sindhu, turned up in the stands for the men's matches. The women's team had lost in the quarterfinals of their respective team event - the Uber Cup - and most of them had been set to fly out of Bangkok soon after.
But they had their tickets rescheduled by the Badminton Association of India so they could cheer for the men's team and combat the noise of the rhythmic chants and balloon clappers of the Indonesian fans.
"We wanted their support, we wanted them to stay back and they did," Prannoy said.
"This is a huge moment for Indian badminton. It's not just about one or two of the players. As a nation, we've marked ourselves as the best in the world. We've never done it before in the sport. There's beauty because this gold medal and everything it signifies and goes onto create, belongs to all of us." — BBC


Clic here to read the story from its source.