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Camaraderie was the key in India’s Thomas Cup triumph: Chirag Shetty | Badminton News

BENGALURU: The ‘New Indian Express’, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, who played a pivotal role in India’s historic Thomas Cup win, are enjoying all the adulation and felt it was the cheerleaders in the team who lifted them when the chips were down.
“All the teams were better than us, but no one had the hunger (to win the title) that we had. Nobody cheered their teammates like the way we did,” Shetty said on the sidelines of the inauguration of a badminton league.
“A lot of Indians had turned up for the final to support us but before that it was just us supporting the other players. In fact, one of us lost the voice (after all the cheering). I think that was the difference this time compared to the previous years.”
“Off court, we were dancing most of the time. We were not worried about the result and were enjoying every moment,” Rankireddy added.
Former world No. 1 Kidambi Srikanth said the team’s will to fight proved a game-changer. “We just told each other that we will fight till the end and that made the difference. I always play better in team events and I think I show a lot more emotions in a team event. I was happy that I could contribute in all the matches. We knew we were doing well individually, so this time we wanted to win a medal. So, we backed each other. After the quarters, we celebrated as if we won the Cup. But after a few hours, we were relaxed and began preparing for the semifinals.”
Asked about their fine combo to put India 2-0 ahead in the final against Indonesia, Shetty said: “Our partnership has grown over the years and it has only become stronger. One thing that works for us is that we are good friends off the court as well. Our next big goal is the Birmingham Commonwealth Games. Of course, the long-term goal is the Paris Olympics. Another target is to be in the top-5 in the world.
Rankireddy said the overall strength of the team also proved crucial. “Earlier, it was like we had to compulsorily win in these two matches. If Srikanth is playing the first singles, he is under pressure because if he loses there is no hope on the first doubles and the team is likely to be 0-2 down and then you have to win the next three. But this time we had chances in all the five matches. Our strategy was to win at least one in the first two and then another one in the next two and then the final match. We were all supporting each other. Srikanth and Prannoy were sharing their experience, the support staff and coaches including Vimal (Kumar) sir all helped.”
“There was no tension when Prannoy bhai was playing in the key matches. He never gives up when he is in peak mode. He pulled off some big wins, playing the third singles under pressure. But it was an amazing show as the whole of India was watching,” Rankireddy said.

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