Kashyap joins Saina in knockout stage of singles badminton

London: Indian male shuttler Parupalli Kashyap today scored a dominating straight games win over Vietnam`s Tien Minh Nguyen to join compatriot Saina Nehwal in the knock-out stage of singles competition in the Olympics here today. The 21st ranked Kashyap outplayed his rival, ranked 11 places above him, 21-9 21-14 in the second and final Group D match of the men`s singles event.

By virtue of today`s win, Kashyap finished on top of Group D, having beaten Belgium`s Tan Yuhan in an earlier game. Saina, ranked fifth in the world, too had little difficulty in disposing off the challenge of Belgium`s Lianne Tan 21-4 21-14 in a Group E women`s singles match last night. Against his higher ranked opponent today, Kashyap played aggressively right from the word go and never let the Vietnamese shuttler settle down.

Kashyap set up the points beautifully by opening the court and executed the winners with ease. In all the Indian took 35 minutes to down his opponent and move to the next stage. The match featured long rallies with both the players playing some fierce flat shots, but it was the Indian who scored points consistently.

Minh tried to claw his way back in the second game but Kasyhap never let the momentum slip and clinched the issue with a cross-court smash to the left of his rival. As expected Kashyap was delighted with the easy win but rued that his father could not be there to see him dominate the match. "I expected to win but not that easily. Not that it was an easy game – we had some long rallies and when he gets into his rhythm he can be very dangerous." Kashyap said.

"My dad didn`t get a UK visa in time. I don`t know what`s going on with the British Embassy. I feel really bad. I really wanted him to be here to see me play, especially in a match like this – to see me beat a player like this. I really hope that he`ll get here tomorrow." Talking about his rival Minh today, Kashyap said he was not an easy player to beat. "Once he gets two or three points in a row he`s very dangerous, so I really tried to keep it to two points only. If he gets five or six he can run away with the game. I trained really hard for this competition and I think I won because of my fitness levels," he said.

Among other Indian shuttlers in the fray, Commonwealth Games gold medallist pair of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponappa also set the Wembley Arena ablaze when they stunned world number 10 Yu Chin Chien and Wen Hsing Cheng of Chinese Taipei 25-23 16-21 21-18 in a Group B round-robin match of the women`s doubles late last night.

However, Jwala and Ashwini had to toil hard to register the win. The Indian pair was pushed to the backfoot after they lost their first group match but the duo then played out of its skin to keep themselves afloat in the competition. World number 20 Jwala and Ashwini blew an early 11-6 lead to allow the Chinese Taipei pair to claw back and earn a game point at 20-19 in the first game. The Indian combo then saved game point thrice before moving into a game point themselves.

However, they faltered again to allow the rivals to come back into the match before restoring their second game point at 24-23. A Chinese Taipei player found the net after a long rally to hand over the first game advantage to the Indian. In the second game, Jwala and Ashwini tried to vary the pace of the long rallies, but they were erratic as Cheng and Chien lead 11-7 at the break. The Indian pair failed to negotiate the bodyline and angled smashes. The Chinese Taipei soon earned a game point at 20-14 when Ashwini hit the nets. Though the Indians saved a couple of game points, Ashwini hit wide to allow their rivals to come back into the match.

In the decider, Jwala and Ashwini earned a small 11-9 lead early on. After the interval, they extended the lead to 16-12 and cautiously moved to 18-19 when a silly mishit by Cheng gave India the match point. The Indians didn`t make any mistake after that and sealed the match with a disguised drop. The 2011 world champion bronze medallist pair of Jwala and Ashwini will take on world number 13 Shinta Mulia Sari and Lei Yao of Singapore in their last group stage match today.