Star shuttlers Kidambi Srikanth and Saina Nehwal on Monday helped India clinch their maiden gold medal in mixed team badminton event after defeating Malaysia 3-1 in the ongoing Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia. This was India's 10th gold and 19th medal overall in the 21st CWG.
In the first out of the five matches, the mixed doubles duo of Satwik Rankireddy and Ashwini Ponnappa gave India the lead by beating the Malaysian pair of Peng Soon Chan and Liu Ying Goh 21-14, 15-21, 21-15 in a thrilling contest.
Then it was star shuttler and current world no.2 Kidambi Srikanth, who doubled India's lead by defeating world no.6 and four-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist Lee Chong Wei 21-17, 21-14 in the men's singles match.
However, Malaysia made a comeback by taking the men's doubles match as the Indian pair of Rankireddy and Chirag Chandrashekhar Shetty lost 15-21, 20-22 against V Shem Goh and Wee Kiong Tan.
In the fourth match, India's seasoned campaigner and in-form Saina Nehwal put paid to the Malaysian hopes with a 21-11 19-21 21-9 win over Soniia Cheah in the women's singles match. The Indian, who has played every one of the women's singles matches in the event, did look a bit jaded but still had enough in her arsenal to thwart a fighting Cheah.
Her victory ensured that the women's doubles pair of N Sikki Reddy and Ashwini did not have to show up for their clash against Vivian Hoo and Mei Kuan Chow.
India have so far 19 medals in their kitty including 10 Golds, 4 Silver and 5 Bronze.
"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 one of the biggest wins of his career.
"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 narrowly to Goh and Wee Kiong Tan 15-21 20-22, keeping Malaysia afloat for a while. But the in-form Saina Nehwal put paid to the their hopes with a 21-11 19-21 21-9 win over Soniia 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.
It has been a punishing last four days for Saina as she played all the women's singles matches during the campaign as P V Sindhu was nursing an ankle niggle.
Flashing a relieved smile after the win, Saina said she would just relax tomorrow.
"I don't think anybody in the team is going to sleep tonight. May be 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 PTI inputs)