BIRMINGHAM: India’s fancied shuttlers didn’t break a sweat on their way to completing a 5-0 whitewash of Pakistan in their mixed team campaign opener at the 22nd Commonwealth Games on Friday.
The duo of B Sumeeth Reddy and Machimanda Ponnappa started the proceedings with a comfortable 21-9 21-12 win over Muhammad Irfan Saeed Bhatti and Ghazala Siddique in their mixed doubles Group A clash at the National Exhibition Centre.
After the Pakistan pair appeared to put up a fight in the second game, Reddy finished the match with a down-the-line smash, and then, world number 11 Kidambi Srikanth picked up from where his mixed doubles colleagues left, easily getting the better of Murad Ali 21-7 21-12 in the men’s singles match.
The gulf in class was evident as the Pakistanis struggled to match the high standards set by the Indians.
“We have come here to definitely win the gold. We will set our targets right and at the same time we are not really thinking about the negative sides of it like whom we are facing in the semifinals or final.
“We’re just focused on doing well and winning the gold,” Srikanth said.
Then, it was the turn of double Olympic medallist P V Sindhu to grab a dominant win over Mahoor Shahzad in women’s singles. The champion Indian shuttler won 21-7 21-6.
Mahoor was not able to tackle Sindhu’s powerful smashes and mostly relied on her higher-rated opponent’s unforced errors to reduce the margin.
At the break of the first game, Sindhu took a huge 11-4 lead before sealing it without any fuss.
The Pakistani started off with a 2-2, but the former world champion’s perfect drop shots were in full display. Soon she again had a 11-4 lead before giving India a 3-0 lead.
For the world number 7 Sindhu, who had pulled out of the last Commonwealth Games team event following an ankle injury, it was about getting the “feel” of the court in pursuit of her maiden gold medal.
“Overall since it’s my first match I was getting used to the court. I was trying out some new strokes and I was also controlling the shuttle in my way,” Sindhu said after toying with her inexperienced Pakistani rival.
“Despite taking a huge lead it was important to understand the court conditions. Overall I got an idea how it is now,” Sindhu, who lost to Saina Nehwal to settle for a silver in the last edition’s individual event, said.
“Last time, I twisted my ankle and was obviously recovering. This time I’m pretty excited as a team. It’s a different environment, as a team really strong, hoping for the best.”
Talking about Indo-Pak sporting contests, she said: “Expectations will always be there, but it’s about giving your best on the court. When I go into the court, it’s just the match, me and how I’m playing. That’s all.”
Fresh from her Singapore Open triumph, Sindhu is hoping to win her maiden CWG gold here.
“Singapore Open win gives me a lot of confidence. Of course, that win was much needed followed by this one. So hoping for the rhythm to continue and go higher.”
In the fourth match, which was the men’s doubles contest, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty got the better of Murad Ali and Muhammad Irfan Saeed Bhatti.
Unlike in the first three matches, Pakistan tried to take the fight to the Indians but soon, the duo of Rankireddy and Chirag found their bearings and emerged 21-12 21-9 winners.In the concluding women’s double match, India’s Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand crushed Mahoor Shahzad and Ghazala Siddique 21-4, 21-5 to complete the rout on a dominant note.
Source By – The Times of India