Indian eves squandered a golden opportunity to qualify for the Uber Cup badminton finals for the first time in over four decades as they went down to host Malaysia 1-4 in their last league encounter of the Asia Zone preliminaries at Kuala Lumpur on Friday.
The Indian team, which had raised the hope of qualifying for the Jakarta final after their fantastic win over third seed Hong Kong on Thursday, came a cropper against the young Malaysians, thereby finishing outside the top four.
Only the four semi-finalists would join defending champion China and host Indonesia in the finals from the Asian continent.
The Indians received an early jolt when 1998 Commonwealth Games silver medallist Aparna Popat bit the dust, losing to Mew Choo Wong 11-9, 11-2.
World number 25 Popat could not produce the form which had helped her maintain a clean slate so far and bowed out in just 20 minutes against the 97-ranked opponent.
The top ranked doubles pair of Shruti Kurien and Jwala Gutta did not help the nations cause as they surrendered meekly to Pei Tty Wong and Chin Eei Hui to lose 5-15, 12-15.
The Indian challenge came to an abrupt end in the third rubber itself when the experienced B R Meenakshi, ranked 101, lost to 198-ranked Sze Mei Woon 9-11, 9-11 in just over halfan hour.
The young Trupti Murgunde got the better of Baharum Norsyahliza 11-7 11-6 to avoid a whitewash after the pair of Manjusha Kanwar and Fatima Nazneen went down against Chew Yen Fong and Sock Ai Ooi 13-15, 2-15.
Earlier, Indian men lost to strong contenders South Korea 0-5in their last league encounter to finish second in Group 'A' of the Thomas Cup preliminaries late last night.
The Indians would now play in the second round play-offsagainst Thailand, Hong Kong and Singapore, who finished second best in their respective Groups, to decide on the fifth qualifier for the finals.
Women: Malaysia beat India 4-1 (Mew Choo Wong bt Aparna Popat 11-9, 11-2; Pei Tty Wong/ Chin Eei Hui bt Shruti Kurien/ Jwala Gutta 15-5, 15-12; Sze Mei Woon bt B R Meenakshi 11-9, 11-9; Chew Yen Fong/ Sock Ai Ooi bt Manjusha Kanwar/ Fatima Nazneen 15-13, 15-2; Baharum Norsyahliza lost to Trupti Murgunde 7-11, 6-11).
Men: Korea beat India 5-0 (Lee Hyun Il bt Abhin Shyam Gupta 15-7, 15-4; Lee Dong Soo/ Yoo Yong Sung bt Rupesh Kumar/ Markose Bristow 15-5, 15-11; Shon Seung Mo bt Chetan Anand 15-7, 15-5; Kim Dong Moon/ Ha Tae Kwon bt Sanave Thomas/ V Diju 15-2, 15-10; Park Tae Sang bt JBS Vidyadhar 15-3, 15-5).