Indian seniors fulfil podium pact

Heroes: H.S. Prannoy and K. Srikanth. — AP /Bernama

SENIORS H.S Prannoy and K. Srikanth made a pact a few months ago to make a difference in the Thomas Cup Finals - they wanted to be on the podium.

And they have achieved it, thanks to the brilliant win over Malaysia on Thursday. Now, the question is where on the podium will they be.

“We were talking about it two to three months ago. We told each other that we’ve never reached the podium, let’s do it this time,” said the 29-year-old Prannoy.

“In the past, our team were affected by injury problems while some players were out, and we couldn’t really blame anyone. This time, we realised we had a team in a decent shape,” said Prannoy, who is making a comeback from injury.

K. SrikanthK. Srikanth

“We knew we will never get this kind of team. The youngsters are vibrant and there was just positive energy.

“I’ve never seen Srikanth playing in such form before. In fact, some of our players have achieved good results in the last six months.

“It was with this confidence and motivation that we came to Bangkok.”

Prannoy did not disappoint – he turned hero for India when he defeated Leong Jun Hao 21-13, 21-8 to deliver the winning point in the 3-2 win that sent India into the semi-finals.

It was India’s first win over Malaysia in 43 years. They last won 5-4 in the Asian Zone of the 1979 Thomas Cup Finals edition in Jakarta, which was played under a different format.

“The pressure is there in every match, but it’s slightly different in a decider. I was struggling for the first nine points and the Malaysian had plenty of support,” he said.

“But once I got the flow, I knew I was in the zone. I took every chance well. I knew how badly the team wanted to win.

“After years of playing, confidence plays a bigger part than one’s skills, and that’s the key behind my win.

“I lost to the Malaysian at the Asia team event in Manila but I was not in good form then."

The world championships silver medallist Srikanth, also 29, was also happy with the achievements.

Asked if others had underestimated them, Srikanth said: “I can’t speak of other countries or what they think of us. If they are not taking us seriously, it’s their fault. It has nothing to do with us.

“I have reached the final of the worlds, Lakshya Sen has reached the All-England final and our doubles pair (Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty) have won titles. If our opponents don’t notice this, it’s their problem.

“We just want to focus on ourselves. The motivation of winning is what keeps us going,” he added.

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