Gold Coast: As predicted by BadmintonPlanet.com on Sunday, it’s going to be hard for Malaysia to beat India in the Commonwealth Games mixed team final. And yes, the India team has created history by defeating defending champions Malaysia to win its first ever Commonwealth Games badminton mixed team gold on Monday.
The mixed doubles combination of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy/Ashwini Ponnappa came back from an 8-12 deficit, scoring seven points in a row to take a 15-12 lead in the decider against Malaysia’s Rio Olympic silver medalists Chan Peng Soon/Goh Liu Ying. The Indian pair eventually walked away with a 21-14, 15-21, 21-15 victory.
World No. 2 Kidambi Srikanth then extended India’s lead to 2-0 when he outlasted three-time Olympic silver medalist Lee Chong Wei in a mouth-watering clash 21-17, 21-14 for his first win over the Malaysian icon in five career meetings.
“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,” said Srikanth.
Goh V Shem/Tan Wee Kiong then kept Malaysia’s hope alive by beating Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty 21-15, 22-20 in men’s doubles to narrow Malaysia’s deficit to 1-2.
When the 2010 women’s singles gold medalist Saina Nehwal of India took to the court in the women’s singles match, she was clearly not going to let the gold medal slip out of India’s hand despite the spirited fight back from Soniia Cheah of Malaysia.
Nehwal won the first set easily against Cheah 21-11, but Cheah was fighting back from 3-7 deficit in the second set. Cheah had to take a medical break to tape up her bruised fingers and then clinched four straight points to take a 15-13 lead before taking the second set 19-21.
The world number 29 Cheah seemed to have found a different gear as she could return everything from Nehwal and her game plan of pushing shuttlecocks to the lines at every opportunity almost paid off as she led Nehwal at 9-8.
But, Cheah’s speed and stamina started to slow down and Nehwal took full advantage of that to reel off 13 points to clinch the third set 21-9 and helped India won the mixed team gold medal.
“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. It is a medal that I will forever cherish, it is very special. Team gold is always way more cherish able,” said Nehwal.
“I don’t think anybody in the team is going to sleep tonight. Maybe I will just relax tomorrow and then think about the singles,” added Nehwal.