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Leander-Vishnu go down fighting; Saina, Kashyap surge ahead

Saina, Kashyap surge ahead; Leander-Vishnu go down fighting
By Indo-Asian News Service
Thu, Aug 02, 2012 03:55:56 GMT

Leander-Vishnu go down fighting; Saina, Kashyap surge ahead
India's medal chances in doubles tennis at the London Olympics evaporated after Leander Paes and Vishnu Vardhan went down fighting, while Parupalli Kashyap and Saina Nehwal inched closer to glory in the badminton event.

Kashyap created history Wednesday by becoming the first Indian male badminton player to make the Olympics quarter final, while Saina made the cut for the second time in the quadrennial event, before old warhorse Leander and his young partner Vishnu came close to an upset win over the second seeded French pair of Michael Llodra and Jo Wilfried Tsonga. They eventually lost 7-6 (7-3), 4-6, 6-3.

In the boxing ring, Manoj Kumar reached the pre-quarterfinals in the 64 kg class by scoring an emphatic victory over Serdar Hudayberdiyev of Turkmenistan late Tuesday night.

However, the nation's forgettable campaign in archery came to an end Wednesday as world number 1 Deepika Kumari suffered an opening round loss, while the hockey team stumbled to their second back-to-back defeat.

The 25-year-old Kashyap won a tough match, 21-14, 15-21, 21-9, against Sri Lankan Niluka Karunaratne at the Wembley Arena to go one up on the previous best performance by Dipankar Bhattarcharjee in the 1992 Barcelona Games, where he lost in the third round.

In the first game, Kashyap rallied back after being 1-6 down to draw parity at 7-7 and then went from strength to strength to pocket it in 20 minutes.

The Sri Lankan came back strongly to take the second game, before the decider saw a neck-and-neck fight for supremacy till 5-all when Kashyap took off and cantered to a win to set up a last eight clash with top seed and Beijing Games silver medallist Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia.

One of India's strongest medal hope Saina, in contrast, looked completely in control on the court. She pulverised her ageing Dutch rival Jie Yao with a flurry of deft placement, brilliant net play and lethal smashes to carve out a 21-14 21-16 victory in 38 minutes.

The day also saw a scandal break out with the organisers disqualifying eight women badminton players from the doubles event for throwing matches to get a favourable opponent.

The pairs are: Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang of China; Greysia Polii and Meiliana Jauhari of Indonesia; Jung Kyung Eun and Kim Ha Na of South Korea; and Ha Jung Eun and Kim Min Jung, also of South Korea.

The Chinese World Champion duo of Wang and Yu and their South Korean rivals Jung and Kim were jeered and booed by the crowd Tuesday after hitting serves into the net and striking easy shots long or wide.

The umpire and the referee warned all the four players, but the situation didn't change. The Chinese women eventually lost 14-21, 11-21 and as a result they would not meet their compatriots until the final.

The farce was repeated in the next game between South Korea's Ha and Kim and Indonesia's Jauhari and Polii. Both teams were also warned for deliberately trying to lose.

The Indian pair of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa, who narrowly missed a quarter final berth by finishing third in their group, lodged a formal complaint accusing the Japanese pair of Mizuki Fujii and Reika Kakiiwa of "wanting to lose" a Olympic Games group match against the Chinese Taipei team, but it was rejected.

At Lord's, India's disastrous archery campaign came to an unceremonious end with Deepika's loss.

Jharkhand girl Deepika, rated as India's biggest medal prospect going into the Olympics, was shown the door by Amy Oliver of Great Britain, who won 6-2.

The 18-year-old's loss completed India's misery in the Games, where four of the six-member contingent of archers fell flat in the opening individual round. Both the men's and women's teams also stumbled at the first hurdle.

On the hockey turf, New Zealand chalked up a 3-1 win over India, who thus slid to their second defeat in as many matches.

After a sensational start when Sandeep Singh converted a second minute penalty corner, India faded away as the Kiwis came storming back with goals through Andrew Hayward (13th), Phillip Burrows (24th) and Nicolas Wilson (29th), and then nursed the lead to the end.

In shooting, Indian girls Rahi Sarnobat and Annu Raj Singh finished at lowly 19th and 30th respectively to bow out at the qualification stage.

Less than a week into the games, the Indian challenge is already over in five sports - archery, table tennis, rowing, judo and weightlifting - of the 13 disciplines the country is taking part. It is now up to the remaining athletes, especially those in tennis, shooting, boxing and wrestling to do justice to the unprecedented pre-games hype seen about their prospects.
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