Swapnil Kusale, Ashi Chouksey win mixed team gold, India end Baku ISSF WC second on medal tally

Swapnil Kusale and Ashi Chouksey drew curtains on India's campaign at the ISSF World Cup Rifle/Pistol/Shotgun in Baku, Azerbaijan with a gold medal in the 50m rifle 3 positions mixed team competition in Baku on Saturday. The pair beat Ukranian's Serhiy Kulish and Daria Tykhova 16-12 in the gold medal match.

This was India's second gold in the tournament after the trio of Elavenil Valarivan, Shreya Agarwal and Ramita won the 10m air rifle women's team event. Besides this, Indian shooters had also bagged three silvers in the tournament and finished second on the medals tally behind Korea.

This was also Swapnil's first gold and third medal overall at the Baku World Cup. He had earlier won silvers in both the men's 3P individual and men's team competitions with Deepak Kumar and Goldie Gurjar.

In the first qualification stage played earlier in the day, Swapnil and Ashi finished fourth with a combined score of 881 out of 900 to qualify for stage two among 31 teams. The Ukranian pair finished second to march into the top eight stage. In stage two, the Indian pair finished second with an effort of 583 out of 600. It was the same score as the Ukrainians but the Indians topped on countback.

In the final, Ukraine started stronger and opened up a 6-2 lead after the first four single-shot series. But the Indian pair fought back admirably, winning six of the next eight series to go ahead 14-10. Serhiy and Daria were not the ones to give up and narrowed the deficit down to 14-12 before Swapnil and Ashi claimed the well-deserved victory.

On Friday, veteran Indian shooter Anjum Moudgil won silver in women's 50m rifle 3 positions. Moudgil went down 12-16 in the gold medal match to Denmark's Rikke Maeng Ibsen. The world championship silver medallist had on Thursday qualified for the top-eight ranking round with a score of 587 out of 600, which gave her a fourth place in a field of 60 shooters

She finished second to Ibsen in stage two with a 406.5 to the Norwegian's 411.4. She then put up a strong challenge in the final but could not put it across the Dane. This is her second individual World Cup silver in the event.

This was India's second ISSF Rifle/Pistol World Cup of the year. The Indian shooters had topped the first World Cup stage in Cairo in the beginning of the year before both the rifle and pistol teams opted out of the Rio World Cup in April. India was represented by a 12-member rifle squad in Baku. The shotgun team also participated in two World Cup stages, winning medals in each of them.

All three squads will be seen in action in the fourth and final Changwon World Cup stage next month, before the big-ticket event -- the World Championships later this year.