CWG Badminton: Saina, Gutta-Ponappa in final; Kashyap loses

By Avishek Roy, IANS,

New Delhi: India’s star shuttler Saina Nehwal is just a match away from the women’s singles gold and so are Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponappa who reached the women’s doubles final at the Commonwealth Games badminton event here Tuesday.

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However, an erroneous line call at 18-all in the decider brought Parupalli Kashyap’s downfall in the men’s singles semifinals, losing to Rajiv Ouseph of England 21-19, 12-21, 18-21. Kashyap would now take on compatriot Chetan Anand in the bronze medal match. Chetan lost to World No.1 Lee Chong Wei 11-21, 12-21 in 24 minutes.

In the women’s doubles, Gutta and Ponappa rallied from a game down to put it across Australians Tian Tang He and Kate Wilson-Smith, 12-21, 21-13, 21-11, in 46 minutes of relentless badminton.

In the last match scheduled for the day, Saina defeated Scotland’s Susan Egelstaff 21-10, 21-17 to reach the final in presence of a capacity crowd and now meets Malaysian Mew Choo Wong in the final.

“It feels good that we have made it to the finals in two events. And we are also assured of one bronze medal. I am happy to make it to the final. I was relaxed at the start but then I lost some points and made it difficult for me in the second game,” Sania said.

“The final will be tough. She (Mew) is as equally good player and it will be 50-50. I just want to play my game and not take any pressure.”

Saina, however, would be a favourite to win the battle Thursday as she had beaten the Malaysian in the singles match of mixed team event final last week.

Saina raced to a 11-8 lead in the first game and with some crisp net play and deceptive shots was soon up a game.

Susan tried to comeback in the second game when she levelled at 5-5 but Saina sneaked ahead. Susan lost her cool when some close calls went against her and slumped to errors, before Saina finished the match in 33 minutes.

In the match between Kashyap and Ouseph, the scores were tied 18-18 when the Englishman’s shot fell on the side court, but despite protests from the Indian the umpire refused to overrule the linesman’s judgement, calling the shuttle in.

Seconds later, the replays on the two giant screens showed that the shuttle was clearly out and the packed hall booed the umpire.

Having nosed ahead, lanky Rajiv took little time in closing out the match. A stunned Kashyap stood in disbelief and a stony silence pervaded the hall, broken by the joyous screams of English team.

It took a while for Kashyap to recover from the shocking loss before he walked up to shake hands with Rajiv. He then acknowledged the applause of a capacity crowd, which gave him a standing ovation for playing his heart out right through the tournament.

“Yes, it led to my loss. The shuttle was clearly out,” a disappointed Kashyap said, referring to the faulty line call.

“The umpire could have overruled the line judge, but he chose not to.”

Kashyap, who upset fourth-seeded Malaysian Muhammad Hafiz Hashim Monday, began cautiously against Rajiv, whom he had beaten in the semifinals of the mixed team event.

Rajiv opened up a 6-3 lead, before Kashyap shifted gears to go into the attacking mode to unsettle the veteran Englishman. Kashyap took seven points in a row to move 12-6 ahead.

Rajiv made a brief comeback as Kashyap, world ranked 32, for the first time showed nerves and lost three game points before going a game up.

Rajiv raced to a 7-0 lead as the Indian committed a series of errors. It was difficult for Kashyap to stage a comeback and the match eventually went to the decider.

Kashyap opened a 4-0 lead in the tense third game, but Rajiv fought back. Kashyap led 10-6 and then 15-12, but Rajiv crawled back to draw level at 16-16 in the neck and neck battle, before the match reached a dramatic finish.

In the mixed doubles, Englad’s Nathan Robertson and Jenny Wallwork carved out a fighting 19-21, 16-21, 23-21 victory over Malaysian Liu Ying Goh and Peng Soon Chan.

The other mixed doubles semifinals was identical as Malaysian Koo Kien Keat and Chien Ee Hui fought back from a game down to beat Singapore’s Chayut Triyachart and and Yao Lei 19-21, 21-16, 21-18.

The women’s singles match too went down to the wire with second seeded Malaysian Mew Choo Wong getting past England’s Liz Cann 21-12, 18-21, 21-17 in an hour-long duel.