Kidambi Srikanth performed brilliantly as India clinched a silver medal after losing 1-3 to Malaysia in the mixed team badminton event of the Commonwealth Games here on Tuesday. Srikanth lost three games to lower-order Tze Yong Ng and put the defending champions on the back foot in the final. PV Sindhu did what was expected of her in the women’s singles while the men’s doubles pair of Satwik Sairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty lost in the opening doubles. With this win, Malaysia regained the title it had lost to India in the Gold Coast four years ago.
For India to retain the gold, much depends on the result of the men’s doubles bout featuring Rankireddy and Shetty, and the pairing of Olympic bronze medalists Teng Fong, Aaron Chia and Wu Yik Soh.
Women’s doubles and mixed doubles were India’s weak link and the team relied on men’s doubles and two singles to get the job done.
The inaugural contest was filled with long and winding rallies, but Reddy and Shetty lost most of them, failing to keep pace with the ultra attacking Malaysian pair.
For a change, the Malaysian crowd made more noise than the Indians, further pushing Chia and Soh. After a hard-fought 21-18, 21-15 victory, the Malaysian took her team 1-0 ahead. Jin Wei won, it was very difficult for the world number seven player
Sindhu led 11-6 in the first game but Goh looked a different player after the interval. He made the former world champion run around the court with his skillful net play. Goh came back strongly to take the game to the end.
Sindhu ended the rally with a forehand smash to the left of Goh and made it 21-20 before the Malaysian came back. Goh tried to bring Sindhu closer to the net in the second game with a similar strategy. However, Sindhu was up to the task as she took an 11-7 lead in the second game.
Goh closed the gap after the interval but Sindhu managed to finish the game comfortably on this occasion. It was a gruesome affair and Goh gave him everything in court including the last point when he fell to the floor. The final scoreline read 22-20 and 21-17, with world number 14 Srikanth coming up with a flat performance in the men’s singles. 42-ranked Tze Yong Ng took the first game to lift hopes from Srikanth for the first time in three meetings. An upset, the Indian then ran through the second game to level the match. In the decider, Tze took a gaping 11-9 lead after some unforced errors from the Indian side. It went 16-12 when Srikanth could not match Tze’s net play.
The Malaysian got his first match point after a long rally, with Srikanth mistaking a line call at the baseline.
Srikanth sent a smash wide in the next point to give Malaysia a 2-1 lead. It was also Tze’s first win over former world No. 1, with a final result of 21–19, 6–21, 21–16.
The world number 11 pair of Thinah Muralitharan and Kung Le Perly Tan was too good for lower-ranked Gayatri Gopichand and Treesa Jolly in the women’s doubles, winning 21-18, 21-17 to complete the task.
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