Editorial

Each for all: On India’s men badminton team win in Thomas Cup

Sport is not just about individual excellence; it is also about the collective joy gleaned from a team’s success when different individuals offer their varied skills and win together for the larger cause as representatives of a nation. India has always had iconic athletes with their fabulous milestones, but when it comes to team success in global events, the examples dwindle. To that limited cupboard displaying Olympic gold winning hockey squads featuring Dhyan Chand, the triumphant 1975 World Cup hockey team, the victorious 1983 cricket World Cup outfit led by Kapil Dev and the 2011 champion unit under M.S. Dhoni, Indian badminton added its golden chapter when the men’s team won the Thomas Cup at Bangkok on Sunday. This was a feather touch that would be felt all through India’s sporting history. Besides winning its maiden title, India also stunned fancied opponents Malaysia and Denmark, and defeated 14-time champion Indonesia in the summit clash. Previously, Indian badminton had offered sporadic joy starting from Prakash Padukone’s magnificent All England victory in 1980. P. Gopichand emulated Padukone in 2001 and just as another drought loomed, first Saina Nehwal and then P.V. Sindhu proved that they could do far better than their male counterparts, winning titles and medals. Finally, the men joined the winning bandwagon with their blend of aesthetics, control and athleticism on the courts.

Be it 20-year-old Lakshya Sen, the seasoned Kidambi Srikanth, the combative H.S. Prannoy and the doubles team of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, India had men who believed that winning the title was in the realm of possibility. In the final, both Lakshya and the doubles duo lost the opening games, and yet they dug deep to hoodwink the Indonesians. Once a 2-0 lead was secured, history beckoned and with remarkable fluency, former world number one Srikanth got past Jonatan Christie at 21-15, 23-21 as India clinched a team triumph for the ages. It was not easy, Lakshya had a stomach bug, and he and others had to cope with the constant pressure of expectations at every hurdle. The coaching staff deserve credit and so do the inspiring footprints left by Padukone and Gopichand, through their achievements and their inputs to their successors. When the Indians infused magic into the feathery shuttlecock, they also gifted an enduring memory to a country forever yearning for collective wins. In the past, Indian tennis had its moments in the Davis Cup but team achievements were often linked to cricketers and hockey stars of a distant era. Srikanth and company have ensured that Dhyan Chand, Kapil and Dhoni’s units will not remain lonely at the top. This surreal win could truly alter the badminton landscape across India.


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Printable version | May 17, 2022 1:11:12 am | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/each-for-all/article65419460.ece