P Kashyap on a badminton court looks like a man in a hurry, going for the expansive smash at the slightest opportunity and diving around to retrieve the defensive returns.
Though the 24-year-old’s style of play is a treat to watch, the world number 34 has been guilty of throwing away the hard work against the top players more often that not. But on Monday, Kashyap showed the patience to construct every point with precise drops and net dribbles to upset fourth seed and 2002 CWG gold medallist Mohammad Hafiz Hashim 19-21, 21-19, 21-16 in just under an hour and book his men’s singles semi-finals berth.
Joining him in the last four was national champion and third seed Chetan Anand, who defeated fifth seed Carl Baxter of England 21-17, 21-9 in the other quarter-final. With two players in the semi-finals, India are now ensured of at least a bronze medal in the men’s singles. While Kashyap will face second seed Rajiv Ouseph, Chetan will meet top seed Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia.
But it was Kashyap who started India’s march into the last four with a victory that showed that he was maturing as a player. The Indian Oil employee had been guilty of wasting too much energy during routine rallies and lacking patience. He committed the same mistakes in the first game, surrendering an 11-7 advantage.
Kashyap tried to force the pace after taking the lead and Hashim was content to keep retrieving and using the half smashes when his opponent was out of position.
He then slowed down and at 18-17 in the second game, played the patient game till his opponent erred while trying to finish the rally. That changed the tempo of the match and though the decider was keenly contested, the Indian always looked in control.
Ladies on song
Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa stayed in medal hunt by thrashing England’s Heather Olver and Mariana Agathangelou 21-9, 21-14 in the women’s doubles to reach the semi-finals.
But it was curtains for India in the mixed doubles and men’s doubles. Jwala and V Diju went down to the Malaysian combination of Kien Keat Koo and Eei Hui Chin 21-13, 21-19 in the mixed doubles quarterfinals while Sanave Thomas and Rupesh Kumar were shown the door by Singapore’s Chayut Triyachart and Derek Wong.