History repeats itself as India's TC team qualify
History repeated itself, here in New Delhi today when India qualified for the Thomas Cup finals for the fist time in 12 years. Then as now, their opponents were Thailand, the match was in New Delhi, and the finals were in Kuala Lumpur. Back in 1988 Prakash Padukone was the hero of the day when he won both his singles and doubles. Today, the opponents were the same, the venues were the same, but the name had changed and history will record that it was Pulella Gopichand who inspired India to victory in the year 2000. Roared on by a partisan crowd, he put the hosts ahead in the opening match of the third-place play-off at the Indira Gandhi this morning. Like Prakash 12 years ago, he then stepped in to play the doubles and it was he and Vincent Lobo who won the third and deciding match for India. In the singles, Gopichand, the world No 32 beat Thailand's Boonsak Polsana 6-15, 15-7, 15-7 in 75 minutes. Looking nervous in the first game, he composed himself in the second and his confidence grew with each point while Boonsak made a series of errors. However, it was the Thai who raced to a 6-0 lead in the third before Gopichand, slowly got back into the game with a series of tight drops to the net to level the score to 6-6. Boonsak worked hard to get the service, but each time he did he nervously served out and failed to put Gopichand under pressure. In the first men's doubles, India top men's doubles pair were no match for Pramote Teerawiwata and Tesana Panvisvas, the Thai's easily winning 15-5, 15-7. Abhinn Gupta, nicknamed 'marathon man' this next week, because all his matches have lasted well over an hour and a half, didn't disappoint today. He went the distance with Anupap Thiraratsakakul beating the exhausted Thai 15-7, 12-15, 15-12 in 90 minutes to put the host nation 2-1 ahead. "We can always relay on Gupta to sap the energy of his opponents," said coach SM Arif, referring to Gupta's penchant for long clear and drop rallies. Playing the second men's doubles, Gopichand and Vincent won the first game 15-11. Pressure seemed to affect their play in the second game and the Indians lost easily 2-15, but spurred on by the crowd Gopi and Vincent, found that something extra to win the match and the tie 15-12. "This is the happiest moment of my life," said Arif "but everything felt right from the beginning of this campaign. All my players were totally committed, but there is no doubt Gopi inspired the team. I must admit that I felt a little apprehensive with the way he started in the singles, but I knew that he would give his best, you can always rely on him. He keeps his cool under the most difficult of situations." Gopichand said: "It's not just down to the players, but to the coaches too. I would really like to pay tribute to them and the Association who have given us the right backing. The crowd support was great, it really lifted us. I still can't believe we've done it." China and Korea, safe in the knowledge that they had qualified for the Kuala Lumpur contested the final here in Delhi, with China winning 3-0 after the three singles. In the Uber Cup final Korea beat Japan 3-2 while Indonesia beat Hong Kong 3-1 for the third place in Kuala Lumpur.