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This time we really played as a team: Kidambi Srikanth

India’s first Thomas Cup triumph was a result of strong bonding and a genuine desire to succeed as a team, its seniormost--unbeaten through the campaign--member says
Indian badminton team celebrate after wining Thomas Cup.(Kidambi Srikanth Twitter)
Published on May 17, 2022 06:14 PM IST

Kidambi Srikanth shook off his struggles of many months to regain form last December as he became the first Indian male player to reach the world championships final in Huelva, Spain, finishing runner-up.

Since then the former world No 1 has maintained consistency in performances. He was the favourite for the India Open in New Delhi in January until Covid sidelined him. He reached the semi-finals of the Swiss and Korea Opens as well before his run culminated in India’s Thomas Cup triumph in Bangkok on Sunday.

The seniormost member of the India team, the 29-year-old won all six matches he played. India won five of the six ties. The world No 11 talks about maintaining form and how the 10-member squad bonded during the week.

Excerpts:

Thomas Cup champions. Has it sunk in yet?

Hasn’t really, it might take another day or two for sure.

You’ve played in the Thomas Cup earlier too. What was different this time?

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This time we really played as a team than like an individual sport. We bonded really well, backed each other and really believed that we could do it. We were cheering aloud for our teammates when they played their matches. Everyone really wanted to do well and win this. We dedicate this win to the nation.

We’ve usually been strong in singles, so how important was it to have a strong doubles pair (Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty)?

We’ve always had decent singles. We always felt if we had a good doubles pair we would have won matches. This time, Satwik and Chirag really made the difference. They won all the important matches, in the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final. That really made the difference.

Six wins, undefeated. How happy are you to contribute to this win?

Most importantly I am happy because I could contribute to the team’s win, be it in the quarter-finals, semi-finals or even in the final to close out the tie.

How did the team bond? What activities did you do together?

From Day 1, we decided we will practice together, all the singles and doubles players. We went out for lunches or dinners in Hyderabad as well as here; we decided we would go to the practice and gym sessions together, and also for all the meals. Basically, we decided we will go everywhere as a team. We decided to have team meetings before and after matches where we discussed about the topics that could help us win. We resolved that we will be there for each other, support each other and perform as a team.

World championships runner-up, semi-finalist at the Swiss and Korea Open, and now the Thomas Cup. How are you enjoying this run of form?

Yeah, definitely. Again, I just want to continue working hard and get better and win more tournaments, covert those runner-up performances, semi-finals into titles and victories. I will definitely try and work towards it.

How did you celebrate on Sunday night?

Most of the celebration happened on court (laughs). All of us went out for a team dinner. That’s all we did.

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