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Saina wins but team loses to Malaysia

By the time the crowd got on its feet to cheer Saina Nehwal's entry on the court, India had already lost the battle.

other Updated: Oct 09, 2010 01:54 IST
Abhijeet Kulkarni

By the time the crowd got on its feet to cheer Saina Nehwal's entry on the court, India had already lost the battle. The world no. 3 was scheduled to play the third rubber of the mixed team final against Malaysia and, despite the Indian maintaining a 100 per cent record in the tournament, the hosts had to settle for a silver after going down 1-3 to two-time champions.

"I knew it was difficult to come back from 2-0 down. But I wanted to win my match and ensure that we did not go down without a fight," said Saina after the match.

With Malaysia boasting of world number one men's singles player Lee Chong Wei and world's best doubles pair, Kien Keat Koo and Boon Heong Tan in their line up, India had to win the first mixed doubles rubber to entertain any hopes of an upset victory.

But Jwala Gutta and V. Diju could not conjure the magic that helped them get the better of world number 10 Nathan Robertson and Jenny Wallwork of England in the semifinal. The Indian combination was slow to get off the block and the presence of left-handed Ei Hui Chin on the opposite side did not help matters.

Jwala clearly struggled to adjust to the left-right combination across the net. And though the Indians did manage to take the rubber in the decider, they never looked the better team in the 46-minute encounter. Jwala and Diju eventually lost 14-21, 21-10, 10-21 against the scratch combination of Chin and Kien Keat Koo.

"Both of us never play mixed doubles. So I guess our strokes were very unorthodox and that also unsettled them," said Koo, one half of the world no.1 men's doubles combination.

India needed a miracle to come back into the encounter thereafter. World number 32 Kashyap did keep the spectators interested in the opening game against Chong Wei but the wily Malaysia was too strong for his 24-year-old rival.

Chong Wei took his time to get the measure of the court and his opponent in the opening game but toyed with Kashyap in the second to win 21-18, 21-7 in 31 minutes.Saina was then expected to land India's first point but even that proved to be quite a struggle against world number 19 Wong Mew Choo. The Indian beat Mew Choo 24-26, 21-17, 21-14.

Koo and Boon Heong Tan then wrapped up the issue with a 21-12, 21-19 win over Sanave Thomas and Rupesh Kumar in the men's doubles.

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