CWG 2010 Team Final – India fails to win historic gold

The badminton mixed team final of the Commonwealth Games could have been a milestone for the host country. At the end of the tie, however the Indians spectators had to […]

The badminton mixed team final of the could have been a milestone for the host country. At the end of the tie, however the Indians spectators had to agree that Malaysia was just too strong for their heroes.

By Dev Sukumar, DNA.  Photos: Sukumar for Badmintonphoto (live from Delhi)

The 1-3 loss to Malaysia was no shame, but the Indians were capable of much better. Still, they can console themselves that the silver medal will be recorded as one of the best team performances in Indian badminton; it followed the bronze of Melbourne 2006 and leaves the possibility of a few in the individual events as well.

Only Saina Nehwal justified her form and ability on Friday in a tough, gruelling encounter that pulled off one point for India. By then, the hosts were 0-2 down – the mixed doubles pair of Diju/Jwala and lead singles player P Kashyap being unable to make it a closer contest.

To be fair, the Indians were up against some pretty stiff competition — Lee Chong Wei is the singles No.1, while Koo Kien Keat / Tan Boon Heong are the top-ranked pair in the men’s doubles- but the Indians failed to show character in the tense moments of the first two matches.

After splitting the first two sets, Diju and Jwala looked uninspired in the third against the irregular combination of Koo Kien Keat / Chin Eei Hui. Both Koo and Chin are top doubles players, but as Koo revealed later, they haven’t played together in ages.

“Our combination was a bit weird,” Koo admitted. “We were struggling to adjust. I hardly play mixed doubles; I used to play when I was 19 or 20. Not anymore. I have to concentrate on men’s doubles.”

The Indian pair’s limitations were brutally exposed as the Malaysians, despite a second game setback, opened up spaces on the other side with deft, quick placements that left the Indians groping at times.

Kashyap started out like he was on rocket fuel, leaping and smashing with such ferocity that the world No.1 was taken aback.

The Malaysian is the world’s best defender, but Kashyap rode on the crowd’s energy to match Chong Wei shot for shot and rally for rally. With a 13-9 lead it looked like the Indian could pull off an impossible victory, but it was at this moment that Chong Wei shifted a gear and took four points in a row. A perfect study in economy of movement and choice of strokes, Chong Wei gradually stepped on the throttle to take the set 21-18.

That killed Kashyap’s confidence as he became a shadow of himself in the second set. His shoulders slumped, the Indian’s challenge fell apart embarrassingly, and he showed no resolve or craft in trying to extend the All England champion.

“I should’ve been more patient in the second set,” shrugged Kashyap. “He allowed me to smash but was ready with a return, and moved me around.”

Saina was all grit against an opponent whom she has demolished in the last two encounters. Wong Mew Choo plays a uni-dimensional game, and on Friday she demonstrated the astounding ability of relentless retrieval. The first game went down the wire at 26-24 in Wong’s favour; the second stayed tight until later, after which Saina pulled through and carried forth that momentum into the third game. Rupesh Kumar and Sanave Thomas, attempting, like Kashyap, the hard task of beating the world’s best, showed some pluck in the second game, but the Malaysians had plenty in reserve.

Earlier in the day, England had clinched bronze by beating Singapore on the same score of 3-1, thanks to wins by Rajiv Ouseph, Clark/Robertson and Robertson/Wallwork while Xing Aying provided Singapore with their only win, against Elizabeth Cann.

The individual event is now about to start in Delhi with hopes that the live scoring will be – for all viewers around the world – much better organized than for the team event.

Final results

Gold medal match:
Malaysia beat India 3-1

Bronze medal match:
England beat Singapore 3-1

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