The national badminton squad celebrate their victory in Birmingham. — Bernama photo

BIRMINGHAM (Aug 3): The Commonwealth Games badminton mixed team gold is back where it belongs – with Malaysia!

The national mixed team avenged their 3-1 loss to India in the final of the 2018 edition in Gold Coast, Australia, by recording a similar 3-1 win over the defending champions in the final of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games here yesterday.

Played at an almost-packed National Exhibition Centre Hall Five here, it was Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games men’s doubles bronze medallists Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik who got the ball rolling for Malaysia as they saw off India’s top men’s doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty 21-18, 21-15 in 48 minutes.

Both pairs put on a superb game of badminton in the first game as they went neck-and-neck until 18-18 before Aaron-Wooi Yik stepped up a gear to win 21-18.

The second game saw Aaron-Wooi Yik in cruise control as they enjoyed a comfortable five-point margin to lead 16-11, courtesy of some ferocious smashes that often caught the Indian pair off guard, before romping away for a 21-15 win to give Malaysia a 1-0 lead.

Professional women’s singles shuttler Goh Jin Wei then took to the court to face India’s 2019 world champion Pusarla V. Sindhu and, although the Malaysian lost 20-22, 17-21, she deserves a pat on the back for a fighting display.

In the first game, Jin Wei found herself trailing 1-8 but she slowly clawed her way back to tie the score at 18-18 and 20-20 before the Indian shuttler prevailed 22-20.

Jin Wei continued to put up a strong fight in the second game but Sindhu proved too strong as she won 21-17 to make it Malaysia 1, India 1.

National men’s top singles player Ng Tze Yong, sporting a new hairstyle, then had to survive a titanic 66-minute battle against former world number one Kidambi Srikanth before prevailing 21-19, 6-21, 21-16.

Tze Yong just about edged a closely-fought first game at 21-19 but somehow lost his way in the second game to go down 6-21 to the Indian shuttler.

In the decider, Tze Yong returned to the court recharged and revitalised to carve out a 21-16 win to give Malaysia a crucial 2-1 lead.

Buoyed by Tze Yong’s spirited display, national women’s doubles pair Pearly Tan-M.Thinaah then played superbly to clinch the winning point by downing Treesa Jolly-Gayatri Gopichand Pullela 21-18, 21-17.

When Thinaah’s backhand return hit the net cord and trickled over for the winning point in the second game, she gleefully punched the air in delight, Pearly sank to her knees in sheer joy and the rest of the Malaysian team members rushed onto the court to celebrate a much-deserved victory.

This is Malaysia’s fourth badminton mixed team gold after Melbourne 2006, New Delhi 2010 and Glasgow 2014.

Meanwhile, Singapore clinched the bronze after hammering hosts England 3-0 earlier yesterday. — Bernama

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