Commonwealth Games: Srikanth, Saina give India winning start in Mixed Team badminton

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Gold Coast (Australia), April 5 (IANS) World No.2 Kidambi Srikanth and former World No.1 Saina Nehwal led the Indian shuttlers off to a winning start at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games outclassing Sri Lanka 5-0 in the Mixed Team A event at the Carrara Sports Arena here on Thursday.

Srikanth beat Sri Lanka’s Niluka Karunaratne 21-16, 21-10 in straight games to clinch the men’s singles match while Saina outshone Madushika Dilrukshi Beruwelage 21-8, 21-4 in the women’s singles match.

Before Srikanth’s exploits, the mixed doubles duo of Ruthvika Shivani Gadde and Pranaav Jerry Chopra beat Sri Lanka’s Sachin Dias and Thilini Pramodika Hendahewa 21-15, 19-21, 22-20 to give India a winning start.

In an enchanting 57-minute see-saw battle where the scoreline read 18-18, 19-19, 20-20 before India turned things around.

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Gadde and Jerry took an 11-10 lead in closing stages of the match to register India’s first win in the CWG 2018 over an upbeat Sri Lankan side.

In the men’s singles tie, Srikanth went into the break with a 11-8 lead in the first game before extending it further to 18-12 but the Sri Lankan scored three points in a row to cut down Srikanth’s lead to 18-15.

The Indian, however, used all his experience to fend off any scares by bagging the final three points comfortably.

In the second game, Srikanth once again got to a 11-8 lead before making it an one-sided affair in his favour by pocketing the tie easily at 21-10.

India made it an unassailable 3-0 over the Sri Lankans after the World No.21 pair of Satwik Ranikreddy and Chiraag Shetty beat Dinuka Karunaratne and Buwaneka Goonethilekka 21-17, 21-14 in the men’s doubles tie.

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London Olympics bronze medallist Saina then sealed India’s win by thrashing Madushika Dilrukshi Beruwelage 21-8, 21-4 in the women’s singles match.

After going into the break with a 11-8 lead, Saina roared back scoring 10 points on the trot to comfortably pocket the first game. The World No.12 Indian extended her dominance in the second game, to take a 11-3 lead at the breather before gaining six points on the trot to eventually clinch the tie.

With an unbeatable 4-0 lead, the women’s doubles match turned out to an one-sided affair for India’s Ashwini Ponappa and N. Sikki Reddy, who beat Thilini Pramodika Hendahewa and Kavidi Sirimannage 21-12, 21-14 in straight games to complete the clean sweep of the Sri Lankans.

–IANS

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