Thomas Cup: 2022 can be Indian badminton’s equivalent of cricket’s 1983, says Vimal Kumar | Badminton News

NEW DELHI: Vimal Kumar has seen Indian badminton travel through valleys and peaks. From Pullela Gopichand winning the All England to Saina Nehwal becoming world No.1 and PV Sindhu being crowned world champion, Vimal has witnessed it from the vantage point of a player, coach and manager. But when India slammed all the comeback doors on Indonesia in the Thomas Cup final on Sunday to be crowned champions, he said, “This is the best achievement of Indian badminton.”
After Malaysia in the quarterfinals and Denmark in the semis, India completed a hat-trick of giant-kills by stunning defending champions Indonesia 3-0. It was in a way reminiscent of India beating the mighty West Indies twice at the 1983 World Cup, including in the final, to win the trophy.
Vimal didn’t disagree.

“In 1983, when we won the cricket world cup, things turned around for cricket. I hope that happens to badminton now. I am expecting that sort of thing for Indian badminton. It’s been a long time,” said Vimal, who is with The victorious Indian team in Bangkok and spoke to a group of journalists from Thailand on Sunday evening.

“I am really, really happy. We are all now getting together, going out for a very nice meal. The (Badminton Association of India) president has given us the go-ahead. So we are going out for a party,” said Vimal.

Until Sunday, India’s badminton history was studded with individual feats; but doing well in a team event had always been a distant dream, which is what makes this achievement even more special.
Vimal believes the foundation of this has been laid by the senior pros in the squad, Kidambi Srikanth and HS Prannoy.

Prannoy, who was selected as the third singles player in the squad, pulled off a couple of heists in the knockouts – first against Malaysia and then against Indonesia. On Sunday it was the turn of Srikanth, whose win over Jonatan Christie clinched the trophy for India.
Before Srikanth, Lakshya Sen came back from a game down to beat Anthony Ginting, followed by Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty saving four match points to put it across the pair of Mohammad Ahsan and Kevin Sukamuljo.

Lakshya, said Vimal, wasn’t well upon landing in Bangkok. He ate something at the Bengaluru airport and it troubled him the entire flight.
“Lakshya had food poisoning. When we landed here, he was sick the whole flight. We gave him two days of rest to him. We put him in against Germany, somehow he squeezed through. Then we gave him some rest … It was Tough for him, then he got better day by day.
“Lakshya had beaten Ginting at the German Open. So he had the confidence. But I was very disappointed with the first game (lost 8-21). I thought he would lose. But then he came back. He is a great addition to Indian badminton, “said Vimal, who coaches at the Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy in Bengaluru, where Lakshya Sen trains.

“Men’s doubles, they (Satwik and Chirag) put up a real special effort. Record in doubles against Indonesia was poor but when it really mattered, they pulled it off,” he said.
Vimal had a special mention for Prannoy and the “team spirit” led by the seniors.
“The senior lot of players, Srikath and Prannoy, got so involved. The other lot is very young. It is an achievement of pure team spirit, which we haven’t seen in the past.
“The last five-six months … Prannoy stood out compared to Sai Praneeth … Such things compelled us to include him as a third player. We knew he had slight injury issues, but we took the chance. We knew if we give him time and space, he will do the job, “said Vimal.

“I would like to congratulate all the selectors for taking that into consideration. If we had put him (Prannoy) through the trials, he could have got injured. It was very important for us that Prannoy delivered in very important matches.”

Vimal said he always had a feeling that this team could pull it off.
“Two-three weeks back, I told them we had an outside chance. I always had that inclination. They played to their potential. That is the key … We can now look at defending the Thomas Cup in the next edition,” he concluded.

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