After defeating island neighbors Sri Lanka 5-0 in badminton in the morning, the Indian contingent carried the momentum along with it in its final faceoff of the day against arch-rivals Pakistan as they completed yet another 5-0 victory. The team, led by stalwarts like Nehwal, Srikanth and Ponappa didn’t put a foot wrong, as the Indian team outmatched their opponents in every single game. This was evident from the fact that all the five games were won by a 2-0 margin in straight sets.
It all started with the mixed doubles pair of Satwik Reddy and Sikki Reddy who were up against the Pakistani duo of Irfan Bhatti and Palwasha Bashir. While India had separate faces for all the five games, Pakistan fielded just 4 players who made multiple appearances in the match. The match was over inside 25 minutes as the Indian pair of Satwik and Sikki floored their rivals 21-10 and then 21-13 in straight sets. At no point did they let the Pakistanis take control of the match.
The baton was then passed to World No. 2 Kidambi Srikanth, who emerged victorious in the men’s singles category match against Pakistan’s Murad Ali. In what proved to be a closely contested fight, Srikanth won 21-16 and 22-20 to win in straight sets. Even though Ali is seeded much below at 623 in the BWF rankings, he did give a little scare to Srikanth in the second set which lasted 18 minutes. As the set reached its conclusion, no player could be declared as a clear winner. It was only in the 17th minute when Srikanth scored two back-to-back points including the match point to seal off the set and the game and hence take India to a 2-0 lead in its second Group A clash against the arch-rivals.
Former World No. 1 Saina Nehwal then thrashed her opponent with utter ruthlessness in the Women’s singles. Saina was at her imperious best as Pakistan’s Mahoor Shahzad proved to be a no match for the Olympic Bronze medallist. In two straight sets, Saina won 21-7 and 21-11. At no point in the match did her opponent pose any serious threat to Nehwal. Saina’s victory thus handed India an unassailable 3-0 lead in the match as they won their second group match of the day. The Indian fans present in huge numbers in the stadium cheered on as their marquee player took India to the top of the table in the group stage.
With the match already won, the Indian juggernaut rolled into the fourth match of the men’s doubles. The Indian duo of Pranaav Chopra and Chirag Shetty showed complete dominance against their rival pair of Irfan Bhatti and Murad Ali. They beat them 21-9 and then 21-15 to seal off a 2-0 victory and took India’s lead to 4-0. None of the sets lasted more than 15 minutes as the Indians outplayed their rivals in all aspects of the game, be it agility, speed or precision.
In the end, all eyes then shifted to Ashwini Ponappa and her partner Ruthvika Gadde who took on the Pakistani duo of Mahoor Shahzad and Palwasha Bashir in what literally was a dead rubber women’s doubles battle. Nonetheless, the Indians kept attacking and like their other teammates; won the match 2-0 in straight sets by 21-6 and 21-10. The sheer brilliance of the pair can be noticed from the fact that they wrapped up the match in just 20 minutes.
All in all, it was an excellent day for Indian Badminton as they now move to the top their group table by defeating both their neighbors with ease. India won both the matches 5-0 and will look to replicate their performance against Scotland tomorrow, in their last group match in the Mixed Team Event. Indian Coach Pullela Gopichand was seen all smiles as the team rounded up the day with some excellent performances.