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India in Uber Cup Asian Zone semis

February 26, 2010 21:09 IST

India rode on Sayali Gokhale's stunning victory to enter the semi-finals of the Uber Cup Asia Zone qualifier, but it was curtains for them in the Thomas Cup in Nakornratchasima, Thailand, on Friday.

Ace shuttler Saina Nehwal set the ball rolling, but it was Sayali who was India's star performer as she won a crucial match to give India a 3-2 victory over Chinese Taipei 3-2 and enter the last four stage.

World No 7 Saina set the tone, sweeping past Chen Hsiao Huan 21-15, 21-14 in the first match, but the doubles pair of Aparna Balan and Shruti Kurian lost the next, 21-11, 14-21, 18-21, to Chien Yu Chin and Wang Pei Rong in 38 minutes.

Level 1-1, former National champion Sayali took the court for the third match and produced a brilliant game to see off Hung Shih Han, 15-21, 21-10, 23-21, in 48 minutes and put India ahead 2-1.

Experienced doubles player Jwala Gutta then teamed with Aswini Ponnappa to beat Cheng Wen Hsing and Chang Hsin Yun 21-16, 21-16 in 25 minutes as India took an unassailable 3-1 lead.

In the last match, National champion Trupti Murgunde lost to Pai Hsiao Ma 14-21, 12-21 in 26 minutes.

The Indian women play Indonesia on Saturday in the semi-finals.

"It was a great match. I never expected that we would come so far, but thanks to the team we made it. Everybody played very well," Saina said from Nakornratchasima.

Senior player Jwala also hailed the team effort but singled out Sayali for turning the tie India's way.

"For me, Sayali is the hero of today's tie. She really gave her everything in the match and pulled off a brilliant win. She was under pressure in the match but dealt with it well in the end," Jwala said.

Asked about Saturday's match, Jwala said, "It will be a very tough match but I see it as a golden opportunity to create history and we all will give our best tomorrow."

However, disappointment was in store for the men's team as they lost their crucial semi-final to formidable Korea.

They next play against Japan, who lost to Indonesia in the other semi-final, in the third place play-off.

World No 30 Parupalli Kashyap failed to give India a positive start. The diminutive Indian lost 16-21, 17-21 to Park Sung Hwan in 36 minutes.

The doubles pair of Sanave Thomas and Akshay Dewalkar also had a bad day in office, going down 10-21, 20-22 to Jung Jae Sung and Hwang Ji Man inside 30 minutes as India fell behind 0-2.

In the third match, Arvind Bhat raised hopes of a comeback, brushing aside Shon Wan Ho 21-13, 21-15 in exactly 30 minutes to make it 1-2.

However, V Diju and Rupesh Kumar couldn't make it count. The experienced duo squandered a first game lead and went down 21-16, 15-21, 9-21 against Ko Sung Hyun and Yoo Yeon Seong.

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