The Indian badminton team went full rampage as they beat 3-time defending champions Malaysia in the finals of the mixed team event to win their maiden gold. Riding on some exuberant victories in the past four days, the Pullela Gopichand coached team entered the finals with high hopes and brimmed with confidence. India won 3-1 against Malaysia thanks to heroics from veterans Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth, who once again emerged triumphant in their respective encounters, as has been the case with them throughout this edition of the Commonwealth Games.
The 5-match final began with the pair of Satwik Rankireddy and Ashwini Ponnappa claiming the mixed doubles match against Peng Soon Chan and Liu Yong Goh 21-14, 15-21, 21-15, giving India a 1-0 lead. Kidambi Srikanth then went up against the legendary Le Chong Wei. The world no. 2 stunned the three-time Olympic silver medalist 21-17, 21-14 in straight games to take India’s lead to 2-0. At this point it appeared all easy for India to ambush the Malaysian team only for the winning run to be stopped by the men’s doubles pair of Liu Yong Goh and Wee Kiong Tan, who beat the Indian duo of Satvik Reddy and Chirag Shetty 21-15, 2-20 in an attempt to keep Malaysia’s hopes alive.
The onus was then on former world no.1 Saina Nehwal to deliver in her women’s singles match against Soniia Cheah, and boy did she perform. Even though she looked a bit off, (probably due to the immense workload as she’s played all the Singles matches for India till now) Saina beat her opponent 21-11, 19-21, 21-9 to give India an unassailable lead of 3-1. When the game was tied at 1-1, the spectators got to witness Saina at her imperious best in the third set as she won 10 points straight to get a 11-9 lead before going into the break. Her victory ensured that the women’s doubles pair of N Sikki Reddy and Ashwini Ponapa did not have to show up for their clash against Vivian Hoo and Mei Kuan Chow.
The badminton team won India’s 10th gold medal as India won 19 medals so far in the Commonwealth Games down under.