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India enter Sudirman Cup play-off

June 15, 2007 15:41 IST

The Indian badminton team, missing some of its top players, recorded a major achievement when they reached the Division 3 play-off stage at the Sudirman Cup in Glasgow.

If India manage to beat France in the play-offs, it will be the first time they would be promoted to Division 2 of the world team championships.

India beat hosts Scotland 4-1 to top the Division 3-Group B. They had to buckle down and display strong nerves as all matches were tough encounters.

The mixed doubles pair of V Diju and Aparna Balan recovered from an early deficit to beat Watson Briggs and Imogen Bankier 18-21, 21-16, 21-18 in 46 minutes.

India grabbed the initiative midway through the second game to draw parity and had to crawl back after conceding a 3-7 lead in the decider as well.

Saina Nehwal also had to endure some anxious moments before getting past Susan Hughes 21-15, 19-21, 21-12 in a match lasting 49 minutes.

The Indian teenager used her deceptive strokes to win the first game but the Scot came back strongly to level the match. But Saina got off the blocks quickly in the third and took a 11-4 lead after which there was no looking back.

Anup Sridhar also came back strongly to defeat Craig Goddard 19-21, 21-7, 21-11 in 44 minutes to seal the tie for the Indians.

The Indian was ranked 30 places higher than his opponent but Goddard took the first game after a close contest. Sridhar soon raised his game to erase all hopes for the hosts.

The men's doubles combination of Sanave Thomas and Rupesh Kumar then got the better of Briggs and Andrew Browman 21-14, 24-22 after saving game points in the second.

However, the scratch women's doubles pairing of Saina and Aparna lost the final match to Bankier and Emma Mason 13-21, 21-17, 14-21.

The Scots were leading for most of the second game as well but the Indian girls forced a decider.

France had qualified for the play-offs topping their group ahead of Canada, the United States and Ukraine.

India had beaten Finland and New Zealand in the earlier group matches.

The performance is all the more noteworthy as India's preparation for the championships was far from ideal with the stand-off between the Badminton Association of India and some top players - Chetan Anand, Jwala Gutta and Shruti Kurien - which resulted in the trio missing out on selection.

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