India stun three-time defending champs Malaysia to claim CWG badminton team gold

The legendary but on the wane Lee Chong Wei was one of the casualties as a rampaging Indian mixed badminton team claimed its maiden Commonwealth Games gold medal, thrashing three-time defending champions Malaysia in the final here today.

The pair of Satwik Rankireddy and Ashwini Ponnappa claimed the mixed doubles match against Peng Soon Chan and Liu Yong Goh 21-14 15-21 21-15, before Kidambi Srikanth stunned three-time Olympic silver medallist Lee 21-17 21-14 in straight games, his first victory over the Malaysian giant.

"Perhaps Lee was not at his best but then you can never be too sure against a player like him. You always have to be on your guard, which I was. And I also gave my best. I was not expecting it to be this easy," Srikanth told PTI after one of the biggest wins of his career.

"Pressure was there on him but Srikanth enjoys pressure and that got him the result," added chief national coach Pullela Gopichand.

The Games debutant men's doubles pair of Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty lost narrowly to Goh and Wee Kiong Tan 15-21 20-22, keeping Malaysia afloat for a while. But the in-form Saina Nehwal put paid to the their hopes with a 21-11 19-21 21-9 win over Soniia Cheah.

"It was exhausting, I actually lost focus during the match but thankfully managed to hold it together and ensure that the gold medal winning shot was mine," said the London Olympics bronze-medallist.

"It is a medal that I will forever cherish, it is very special. Team gold is always way more cherishable," she added.

Earlier, India had won the mixed team silver and bronze respectively in the 2010 and 2006 editions of the Commonwealth Games.

Mixed doubles pair of Ashwini and Rankireddy opened the proceedings for India and raced to a quick 8-4 lead. The Malaysians narrowed it to 7-9 in no time showing better adeptness in attacking the net.

But the Indians managed to stay ahead at 11-7 owing to their rivals' poor shot placement from the baseline.

Within no time, the Indians were 14-9 ahead, taking it to 17-11 eventually. While Satwik provided most of the brute force from the baseline, Ashwini's control stood out as they claimed the first game 21-14.

Goh and Chan bounced back to equalise in the second game but simply self-destructed in the deciding game with poorly executed strokes that made the Indians' job easy.

Malaysian legend Lee Chong Wei then walked out to a thunderous applause to face Srikanth next but it wasn't meant to be his day despite the arena resonating with the chants of his name.

The Indian, who has never beaten Lee on the circuit, was neck-and-neck with his rival before taking a 10-8 lead in the opening game.

The ever-so-elegant Lee was surprisingly off colour. As graceful as his on-court movement was, the strokes lacked accuracy as he took the lemon break trailing 8-11.

The gap widened as the game progressed and it was quite a dampener for the sizeable Malaysian fans to watch their icon struggle.

Later, Saina was expected to close it quickly for Team India but Cheah took advantage of her jaded state to put up a massive fight. Saina struggled to reach out for the shuttle quite a few times.

It has been a punishing last four days for Saina as she played all the women's singles matches during the campaign as P V Sindhu was nursing an ankle niggle.

Flashing a relieved smile after the win, Saina said she would just relax tomorrow.

"I don't think anybody in the team is going to sleep tonight. May be I will just relax tomorrow and then think about the singles," the champion shuttler said referring to the singles competition which starts on April 11.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

Dear Reader,

Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.

We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel