India win gold in mixed team badminton at 2018 Commonwealth Games
Despite having some good singles players, India had never won the team event in badminton at the Commonwealth Games. Their glory has been restricted to singles glory achieved by the likes of Prakash Padukone, Syed Modi, Saina Nehwal and P Kashyap. (CWG 2018 UPDATES)
But on Monday, India set right that anomaly as the team defeated Malaysia 3-1 in the final to win the gold medal. Nehwal sealed victory with a exciting victory against Soniia Chea of Malaysia in women’s singles after Malaysia had threatened a comeback by winning the men’s doubles clash.
Saina won the first game 21-11 but she committed some errors towards the middle of the second game and allowed Soniia to take it 21-19, winning the last few points egged on by the large number of Malaysian supporters in the crowd at the Carrara Indoor Stadium here. However, India could not be denied their hour of glory as Saina came back strongly in the decider to win it 21-9 and seal victory.
The mixed doubles combination of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Ashwini Ponappa gave India a superb start when they came back from a second game slump to overcome Peng Soon Chang and Liu Ying Goh 21-14, 15-21, 21-15. With Satwinsairaj hitting some good smashes and Ashwini showing deft touch, the Indian pair won the first game easily, capitalising on the mistakes made by the Malaysian duo. However, Liu and Peng dominated the second game and opened up a good lead and went on to win the second game.
The Indian pair tightened their game then as the Malaysians succumbed to errors. They built up an early lead and did not allow the Malaysians to launch another fightback. The good opening seemed to give Kidambi Srikanth the confidence to register his first win against Malaysian legend Lee Chong Wei.
The Malaysian, a former World No 1 and silver medallist in the last three Olympic Games, did not look as sharp as ever while Srikanth kept him under pressure and didn’t allow the Malaysian star to dictate terms.
He kept the shuttle in play and as Lee committed mistakes, he capitalised on them to score a straight-games victory. His 21-17, 21-14 win in the 43-minute encounter opened up a 2-0 lead for India in a tie that was expected to be tough but was turning out to be a cakewalk for India.
The Malaysian men’s doubles combination of V Shem Goh and Wee Kiong Tan looked set to pull back one point for their team as they won the first game against Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty. The Indians fought back and opened a 5-11 lead in the second game but the Malaysians cut it down to 9-12.
Two unforced errors by the Malaysians helped India extend lead to 14-9 but the Malaysians soon caught up with them at 17-17 as the two pairs went neck-and-neck. The Malaysians took the lead when Goh smashed in between the Indians after capitalising on a weak return by Chirag. Goh and Tan bagged a couple of match points and though the Indians saved both, Malaysia won the men’s doubles 21-15, 22-20 to put their team on an even keel.
That set the stage for a thrilling women’s singles clash between Saina and Malaysia’s Soniia Cheah that the Indian eventually won to seal India’s 3-1 triumph.
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