Indonesia reaches Thomas Cup final

Winning team: Indonesian doubles player Nova Widianto (left) hits a  return as his teammate Alvent Yulianto stays on guard. The doubles  steam won 21- 14, 22-20 over their Japanese rivals on Friday to assure  Indonesia of a place in the Thomas Cup final. – Antara/Maha Eka Swasta

Makeshift doubles team of Nova Widianto and Alvent Yulianto overcame a stiff challenge from Japanese duo of Noriyasu Hirata and Hiroyuki Endo 21-14, 22-20 on Friday to help Indonesia reach the Thomas Cup badminton team championship final.

Nova and Alvent squandered four match points in the thrilling match at Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur before regaining their composure to give Indonesia an unbeatable 3-1 lead.

Indonesia has won the trophy for a record 13 times but will be making its first final appearance since 2002. The national team will play either defending champion China or host Malaysia.

First singles Taufik Hidayat gave Indonesia an early 1-0 lead with an easy 21-9, 21-14 win over Kenichi Tago. World number one Markis Kido and Hendra Setiawan made a short work of Kenichi Hayakawa and Kenta Kazuno 21-9, 21-11 to double the margin.

Simon Santoso looked to settle the issue beyond doubt when he took the first set in the second singles match against Sho Sasaki. But the Japanese fought back to sweep the next two sets for a 19-21, 21-13, 21-11 to keep his team’s hopes alive.