Lee Chong Wei upset world No 1 Lin Dan on Friday but it proved futile as defending champion China crept past Malaysia 3-2 and into the Thomas Cup final.
The odds were stacked against Malaysia, with China the dominant world force, boasting some of the best players in the world.
But the fans sensed an upset when world No 2 Chong Wei won the battle of the big guns against an out-of-sorts Lin in the first singles rubber.
Bao Chunlai of China celebrates winning a point against Wong Choong Hann of Malaysia during their semi-final match at the Thomas Cup badminton tournament in Jakarta yesterday. (photo:sina.com)
Chong Wei rattled through the first set in just 15 minutes before sealing the temperamental Chinese star's fate 21-12, 21-14.
Order was restored by doubles world No 2 Cai Yun and Fu Haifeng who held their nerve against the spirited Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong to win 21-16, 21-17.
And the wheel spun in China's favor when world No 3 Bao Chunlai proved too good for Malaysian captain Wong Choong Hann who crashed 21-18, 21-7 to put the tie within reach.
But Malaysia's strong point is doubles and Muhammad Zakry Abdul Latif and Muhammad Fairuzizuan Muhammad Tazari forced the tie into a thrilling finale by beating Xie Zhongbo and Guo Zhendong.
With China's reputation at stake, Chen Jin stepped up to the mark to outgun Muhammad Hafiz Hashim and ensure it remained on track for a third straight title, with either Indonesia or South Korea awaiting the China team in Sunday's final.
"Whatever the score, as long as we are in the final I am happy," said China coach Li Yongbo, adding that Lin losing was always a possibility.