Lee Chong Wei was one of the casualties as a devastating Indian mixed badminton team claimed its maiden Commonwealth Games gold medal, defeating three-time defending champions Malaysia in the final.
Satwik Rankireddy along with Ponnappa claimed the mixed doubles match against Peng Soon Chan and Liu Yong Goh 21-14, 15-21, 21-15, before Kidambi Srikanth stunned three-time Olympic silver medallist Lee 21-17 21-14 in straight games.
"Perhaps Lee was not at his best but then you can never be too sure against a player like him. You always have to be on your guard, which I was. And I also gave my best. I was not expecting it to be this easy,’’ Srikanth told PTI after the game.
"Pressure was there on him but Srikanth enjoys pressure and that got him the result,’’ added chief national coach Pullela Gopichand.
The Games debutant men's doubles pair of Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty lost to Goh and Wee Kiong Tan 15-21 20-22, keeping Malaysia afloat for a while with a close fight. But, the in-form Saina Nehwal delighted Indian fans with a 21-11, 19-21, 21-9 win over Sonia Cheah.
"It was exhausting, I actually lost focus during the match but thankfully managed to hold it together and ensure that the gold medal winning shot was mine," said the London Olympics bronze-medallist.
"It is a medal that I will forever cherish, it is very special. Team gold is always way more cherishable’’, she added.
Earlier, India had won the mixed team silver and bronze respectively in the 2010 and 2006 editions of the Commonwealth Games.
Mixed doubles pair of Ashwini and Rankireddy opened the round up for India and raced to a quick 8-4 lead. The Malaysians came close after winning 7-9 in no time showing better adeptness in attacking.
But the Indians were always a step ahead at 11-7 owing to their rivals' poor shot placement from the baseline.
Within no time, the Indians were 14-9 ahead, taking it to 17-11 eventually. While Satwik provided most of the brute force from the baseline, Ashwini's control stood out as they claimed the first game 21-14.
Goh and Chan bounced back to equalise in the second game but simply self-destructed in the deciding game with poorly executed strokes that made the Indians' job easy.
Malaysian legend Lee Chong Wei then walked out to a standing ovation by the crowd to face Srikanth next but the Indian won the game despite the crowd backing Lee.
Later, Saina was expected to close it quickly for Team India but Cheah took advantage of her jaded state to put up a massive fight. Saina finally manage to clinch victory against Sonia.
"I don't think anybody in the team is going to sleep tonight. Maybe I will just relax tomorrow and then think about the singles," the champion shuttler said referring to the singles competition which starts on April 11.
(With inputs from agencies)