Felt the Thomas Cup was easier than this, says Rankireddy as India settles for CWG badminton silver

The Indian badminton side on Tuesday settled for a silver medal as PV Sindhu was made to work hard for a 22-20, 21-17 victory over Malaysia’s Goh Jin Wei during the women’s singles match at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham. It was the country’s sole win in the mixed team final, the final scoreline reading 3-1.

AS IT HAPPENED – India vs Malaysia final highlights

Sindhu made good use of her height and reach to neutralise her opponent’s cross-court shots. An overhead shot from Jin Wei, which floated off court limits, saw the scoreline locked at 10-4 before a series of unforced errors from the two-time Olympic medallist had the Malaysian hoping. To add to Sindhu’s troubles, Jin Wei’s drop shots started troubling her. At 20-20, one would have expected the nerves to kick in, but not for the experienced Sindhu who converted her game point with relative ease.

The two-time Olympic medallist had some nervous moments in the opening minutes of the second game. She, however, kept firing into vacant spaces and setting up powerful smashes to ultimately get the better of Jin Wei, who she has been drawn against in the singles’ quarterfinal as well.

“She played well and it is not going to be easy. I have to be focused from day one… on my feet and alert all the time,” Sindhu said after the match.

Earlier, India didn’t get off to a good start in the event as its men’s pair Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty got bested by the Malaysian duo of Teng Fong Aaron Chia and Wooi Yik Soh 18-21, 15-21.

Ahead of the first mid-game interval, India and Malaysia looked at par with some intense rallies on display. The Indians later upped the ante with Chirag thundering in a number of body smashes. But just when India looked well set to take the first game, with 18 points and a three-point cushion, the Malaysians pocketed six back-to-back points, taking advantage of some sloppy net game from Chirag and Satwik.

A 43-shot rally saw Satwik and Chirag take a 3-2 lead in the second game, one they eventually squandered to finish 7-11 at the break. An interesting moment saw Chirag rush to get a change of racquets mid-rally and the Indians still managed to win the point. Chia and Soh, however, weren’t to be taken lightly as they went on to clinch five match points and eventually the game to hand Malaysia a well-deserved 1-0 lead.

In the third contest, World No. 42 NG Tze Yong, who replaced Lee Zii Jia in the team, beat Kidambi Srikanth 19-21, 21-6, 16-21 for the first time in his career. Although, Srikanth bagged the second game without much resistance from Tze Yong, he lost his way again in the final game.

Rankireddy spoke about Srikanth, who he says he is closest to, after the game. He said, “Never seen Srikanth anna (brother) break down like this. I couldn’t bear to see him like that. I just walked out of the hall. Even then I could hear the announcer, so I plugged in and put on loud music. I felt the Thomas Cup was easier than this. The Malaysians were in it with a winning mentality. It is just a matter of who is better on the particular day. We will come back from this.” 

Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand were no match for Thinaah Muralitharan and Tan Koong Le Pearly as the Indian pair lost 21-18, 21-17 in the decider. Both Muralitharan and Koong Le Pearly defended well in a match that had an average rally time of 11 seconds.

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