CHEAM June Wei may not have hit the heights individually on the world stage, but the shuttler certainly relishes his role at team level.
The 24-year-old, who was once touted as successor to former world No 1 Lee Chong Wei, has struggled to make his mark over the years as injuries hampered his progress.
The world No 70 did, however, make a kind of breakthrough during the Asia Team Championships last year, winning four of his five matches with Malaysia finishing runners-up.
It was an impressive outing by the Penangite who claimed wins over South Korea's former world No 1 Son Wan Ho, Japan's world No 16 Kenta Nishimoto and Indonesia's world No 7 Jonatan Christie.
He was, however, unfortunate not to build on that momentum as the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted the international calendar.
But June Wei is finally back in a familiar role and playing well once again. He helped Malaysia cruise to a 5-0 win over Canada in Group D of the Thomas Cup Finals in Aarhus on Tuesday.
Playing second singles, June Wei showed that he can be counted on, producing a superb showing to beat world No 46 Jason Anthony Ho-shue 21-14, 21-14.
Malaysia's other points were delivered by skipper Lee Zii Jia, Ng Tze Yong and the scratch pairs of Nur Izzuddin Rumsani-Soh Wooi Yik and Aaron Chia-Goh Sze Fei.
"There was a bit of pressure on me but I wasn't overthinking it, and I was just patient enough to let it play out on court," said June Wei who was making his Thomas Cup Finals debut.
"I feel confident on court and I want to win my matches to contribute a point for the team regardless of who I play.
"Of course there is still a gap to catch up with the top players. The pandemic has affected my progress, but I have been working hard to catch up," he said.
June Wei's form is crucial to Malaysia's progress, especially when they take on Japan today to decide the group winners.
If fielded, he is expected to meet either world No 13 Kanta Tsuneyama or Nishimoto.
"I'm really happy to be given an opportunity to compete in the Thomas Cup Finals for the first time," said June Wei.
"Japan will be tough as all three of their singles players are strong, so I have to prepare well and have faith in myself if I am given a chance to play."