Kidambi Srikanth, Saina Nehwal headline India’s first badminton mixed team gold

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Indian Badminton team celebtrates after the game.

Gold Coast, April 9: India’s badminton contingent has combined to deliver a landmark mixed team gold medal on day five of the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia where Malaysia were beaten 3-1 on the back of strong shuttle play from Ashwini Ponnappa, Satwik Rankireddy, Kidambi Srikanth and Saina Nehwal.
This is the country’s first mixed team badminton gold at any edition of the CWG, and it has come under the expert tutelage of Dronacharya Pullela Gopichand, who was the recipient of the Times of India Sports Award (TOISA) Mentor of the Year award in February for his role in turning India into a global badminton force. Of the shuttlers who helped win India this gold at the Carrara Sports Arena 2 on Monday, Srikanth, Saina and Rankireddy are Gopichand’s pupils.
Putting India on course for gold was the mixed doubles’ pair of Rankireddy and Ponnappa, who beat Peng Soon Chan and Liu Ying Goh 21-14, 15-21, 21-15 in the first match-up. Then came a mouth-watering clash between World No 2 Srikanth and three-time Olympic silver medalist Lee Chong Wei, which the Indian shuttler took 21-17, 21-14 for his first win over the Malaysian icon in five career clashes. Srikanth – who was named TOISA Badminton Player of the Year for his record-breaking success in 2017 – rarely let Wei settle, and his trademark returns and smashes were on ample display in a straight-games win.
Up 2-0, India looked to the men’s doubles pair of Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty to seal gold, but they were beaten in straight games 15-21, 20-22 by V Shem Goh and Wee Kiong Tan.
That shifted the focus to World No 12 Saina and the 2012 London silver medalist did not disappoint, beating Soniia Cheah 21-11, 19-21, 21-9 to take India’s overall medal tally at the ongoing CWG to 19.
Team India entered the final at Gold Coast having beaten Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Scotland, Mauritius and Singapore. (Agencies)