Parupalli Kashyap wins gold, Jwala-Ashwini settle for silver at CWG
Glasgow: Parupalli Kashyap etched his name firmly in the history books by becoming the first Indian male shuttler in 32 years to win a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games, but women`s doubles pair of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa had to settle for a silver, here on Sunday.
A bronze-medallist at the Delhi Games, Kashyap rose to the occasion and played a sensational game of nerves to eke out a breath-taking 21-14 11-21 21-19 triumph over Derek Wong of Singapore in the final showdown, which lasted over an hour.
The 27-year-old from Hyderabad thus joined badminton legend Prakash Padukone and the late Syed Modi, who had won the title in the past. While Padukone had won the men`s singles gold medal at the 1978 Commonwealth Games in Canada, Modi retained it four years later.
However, 2010 gold medallists Jwala and Ashwini failed to recreate the same magic as their title defence lay in tatters after a 17-21 21-23 defeat against World No. 18 Malaysian combo of Vivian Kah Mun Hoo and Khe Wei Woon in the 41-minute summit clash at the Emirates Arena here.
Nonetheless, the silver medal is yet another feather in the caps of Jwala and Ashwini who had clinched the 2011 World Championship bronze and also bagged the bronze at the Asian Badminton Championship in April this year.
It turned out to be a red letter day for World No. 22 Kashyap who bagged the biggest title of his career. He had reached the quarterfinals of the London Olympics and won the Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold in 2012.
Up against a tricky player, Wong, who was immaculate with his court coverage and wrist play, Kashyap was rewarded for his relentless never give up attitude.
In the first game, Kashyap was leading 14-8 before Wong came back with the help of some precise smashes to gather four straight points. But the Indian soon turned the tables.
Kashyap put pressure on his opponent and gathered few points at the net to reach 18-12. 12. Soon he garnered seven game points after Wong`s return got buried into the nets.
An inaccurate down-the-line smash from Kashyap helped Wong save one game point but the Indian soon wrapped it up with another jump smash to earn the bragging rights.
Not ready to take it lying down, Wong changed his gameplan and started penetrating the defence of Kashyap to lead 11-6 at the interval. Kashyap committed too many unforced errors while Wong stepped up to move to 15-8.
In the end, a down-the-line smash from Wong and a few wide shots helped the Malaysian make a roaring comeback into the contest.
Back to his winning court, Kashyap started the decider on a positive note. His smashes were more accurate and he judged the shuttle well.
But still he found it tough to break the defence of Wong, who used his tricky deceptive shots, better court coverage and better net play to lead 11-8.
After the interval, Kashyap narrowed the lead to 11-12. At 13-11, the duo engaged in a long aggressive rally, which the Indian won, amid loud cheers from the fans.
Kashyap soon drew level at 14-14 when Wong found the net and then surged ahead with a bodyline smash. The Indian stepped up the attack and engaged in a fast-paced rally, which ended with Wong hitting long.
Wong found the net again and Kashyap earned a point with a cross-court smash to move to 19-16. The Malaysian, however, soon rubbed off the deficit with a three-point burst but he hit long and wide next as Kashyap burst into celebration.
In the women`s doubles final, Jwala and Ashwini paid the price for committing too many unforced errors as they first blew up a narrow 15-13 lead in the opening game, before wasting a four game point advantage in the second game.
Ashwini was specially not in her elements today as the Indian failed to connect her strokes, which saw the shuttles going wide and long, resulting in a lot of points for their Malaysian rivals.
The match between the two pairs -- separated by just three ranking points -- was a rollercoaster ride right from the start as the Malaysian combo could only earn a narrow 11-10 lead at the first interval.
Ashwini`s deceptive flicks earned India a couple of points after the breather but unforced errors by the Indian and a mistake at the net by Jwala helped Hoo and Woon drew level at 16-16.
Two wide shots then helped the Malaysian pair earn a three-game point lead and they soon pocketed it to grab a 1-0 advantage.
India had an early 4-1 lead in the second game but soon Hoo and Woon caught up at 5-5 and entered the break at 11-9 with Jwala finding the net once again.
With a precise return that landed on the line, Jwala helped India to claw back. The Malaysian pair then found the net and hit a long shot to allow India a 17-15 cushion.
India capitalised on the advantage and swelled the lead to 20-16 with a beautiful tap at the nets by Jwala, but they squandered the lead with a series of wide shots and the scores were tied at 20-20.
Hoo and Woon then didn't spare anymore time and sealed the issue with a couple of smashes, which Ashwini had no answers to.
Jwala admitted that she made a number of mistakes during the match.
"From my side there were a lot of mistakes. I should have controlled from the net but I wasn't doing my job. The excitement was too much, and from that the pressure also builds," said Jwala after the match.
"For me every point is important. We have to learn from every win or loss but I would proudly say we have played consistently," she added.
Jwala said while they failed to defend their gold from the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games, bagging the silver was still a good performance.
"Last time we got gold and this time we got to the final, so it's still good," insisted Jwala.
Ashwini said although she was "irritated" with herself during the match, she was happy to pocket a silver.
"We gave it our best. I was irritated with myself but now I'm happy after winning silver," said Ashwini