Thursday, October 7, 2010

CWG: India cruise into final of mixed team event

P Kashyap today pulled off an upset victory against world number 16 Rajiv Ouseph 21-13, 21-17 as India demolished England 3-0 to set up the title clash against defending champions Malaysia in the mixed team event at Commonwealth Games here tomorrow.

With the win, India, the second seed in the team event, also avenged their defeat to England in the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games. The hosts have thus continued their winning streak to six matches and moreover winning all of them in straight sets as they made it to the finals after a span of 28 years.

The crucial match of the semifinals was the mixed doubles where Jwala Gutta and V Diju came out with brilliant serves, which made their walk to victory against Nathan Robertson and Jenny Wallwork quite comfortable.

Though there were some unforced errors by the Indian pair which conceded a few points in the first game but soon took control over the shuttle, with Diju killing off his rivals' strokes by his brilliant smashes and Jwala by her usual good net plays to pull it off 21-17, 21-15 in a 29-minute encounter.

''We both played well. They are far experienced players. It was a crucial match for both the teams and we were under pressure. My strokes were going well and both of us served well,'' Jwala said.

Meanwhile Diju said, ''This was the first time that we have beaten Nathan Roberston in mixed doubles. Though he is playing with a new partner this time. We served really well and that proved to be the difference between both the pairs. It was good that there was no long rally because Nathan is world's best backcourt player.

Everything worked according to our strategy.'' However, the biggest win for the hosts came when Kashyap, the world number 32, made his higher ranked English opponent Rajiv bit the rust 21-13, 21-17 to take India two up.

Kashyap, who led from the start of the game, went on with some good rallies to win the first game easily. However, he was stretched a bit in the second game as he lost focus mid-way when he was 15-10 to concede points till it was 15 all.

However, he controlled over the game and picked up the crucial six points on a trot to eventually wrap the match.

''It was only after today's quarterfinal that I was told that I will be playing this match. I was under pressure and infact Gopichand sir was also under pressure after putting me in the singles match,'' Kashyap said.

''So I wanted to prove a point that even I can beat him. Most of my team members were confident that I am better in fitness than Rajiv.

''My strategy was to tire him out by playing rallies. So I started slow. I never lost focus in the entire match and I always play better when the crowd is behind me,'' added the ecstatic shuttler.

National coach P Gopichand also rated Kashyap's match as the best on India's enroute to the finals.

In the women's singles, Saina Nehwal who was playing her second match of the day seemed confident at the start of the match against Liz Cann, with all the morale boost her team mates have brought after the two wins.

Saina got the better of Liz 21-18, 21-11 to give India an unassailable 3-0 lead and the victory.

The Indian, however, took time to concentrate on her game before she was able to read her rival in the second game to beat her with much trouble.

''Last time, we lost to England in the team event semifinal against England. So we were little bit nervous before the match. But it was a good team effort. Jwala-Diju's match was important and they pulled it off comfortably. And Kashyap was also amazing today,'' Saina said after her match.

''I was confident of winning my match but there was pressure as I was playing in front of such a huge crowd, which I am not used to it. But it is a great feeling that we have entered the finals after a long time,'' she added.

On India's match against Malaysia, she said, ''If I play Mew Choo Wong in women's singles, it would be tough. But I have played her many times so I know her game.

Meanwhile, Gopichand said the three women's matches could be crucial tomorrow.

''Women's singles, women's doubles and the mixed doubles would be crucial matches and they will decide our fate in the finals tomorrow,'' he said.

In the other semifinal match, Malaysia defeated Singapore 3-1 to enter the final.

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