It was just an extra-ordinary performance from Indian mixed badminton team as they defeat triple Commonwealth Games Champion Malaysia in the finals to clinch historical first gold medal for the nation in mixed team event of 2018 Commonwealth Games, Australia.
Indian team led by Saina Nehwal smashed Malaysia by 3-1, who won the mixed team event for the last three times of Commonwealth Games (2006, 2010, 2014) while six times Commonwealth gold medalist England clinched the bronze medal after defeating Singapore.
Indian mixed duo of Ashwini Ponnappa and 17-year old wonder kid Satwik Reddy pulled off a huge upset by defeating Rio Olympics Silver medalist Malaysian pair of Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying in a three games thriller by 21-14, 15-21, 21-15 to give India a crucial lead of 1-0.
Ashwini and Satwik looked so confident with their shots in first game and Malaysians had no answer to the brilliant play from the Indian pair in the first game.
Malaysia’s Chan Peng and Liu Ying made a good comeback in the second game to cruise past the Indian duo by 21-15 quite easily. Their dominance in the third game continued and the experienced Malaysian pair was leading by 12-8 but the things started to get changed and Ashwini/Satwik won seven points back to back to get a lead of 15-12 and put India into the driver seat of the tie by winning it 21-14, 15-21, 21-15.
In the second rubber, World no.2 Kidambi Srikanth was up against Malaysian legend and three times Olympic Silver medalist Lee Chong Wei but the Indian remained focused and confident throughout the match to put India into the driving seat by crushing Lee Chong in straight sets by 21-17, 21-14.
Both players started the proceedings carefully with both going neck to neck and it was Lee who gets into the lead by 6-8 but 6 straight points from the Indian put him into the commanding position 12-8. Lee, again drew the things back to level by 15-15 but failed to carry the momentum and loose the first set by 17-21.
Srikanth looked flawless in the second game and gave his opponent no chance to get back into the match, he quickly moved into the lead by 11-5 and sealed the second match for the country by winning the second game by 21-14.
Indian young pair of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy failed to create an upset against men’s doubles Rio Olympics medalist Goh V Shem and Tan Wee Kiong and lost the third rubber by 15-21, 20-22.
London Olympics medalist Saina Nehwal was huge favourite to win the tie against lower ranked Soniia Cheah but the 24 year old Malaysian gave a brilliant fight to the Indian and almost pulled off a sensational victory but Saina hel her nerves in the dying moments and grabbed the victory by 21-11, 19-21, 21-9 to lift India’s first ever gold medal in the mixed team event of the badminton.
With this Gold medal, Indian medal tally moves up to 19 medals (10 Gold, 4 Silver, 5 Bronze), currently India is well placed on 3rd position of the overall medal tally behind Australia and England.