A day of high drama saw Canada beat Australia 3-2 in a Group D tie in the Mixed Team event of the 2014 Commonwealth Games yesterday.
Two other ties were just as sensational: Guernsey’s defeat of Seychelles in Group C and Ghana’s over Uganda in Group B.
Australia started strongly against Canada, with Mixed Doubles pair Ross Smith and Renuga Veeran making light of the challenge of Toby Ng and Alex Bruce 21-17 21-11. The 25-minute encounter gave little indication of what was to follow.
Unknown Canadian Andrew D’Souza, who started representing his country at the senior level this year and is ranked No.279 in Men’s Singles, shocked the more experienced Jeff Tho (No.242) 21-10 21-8 in just 26 minutes. D’Souza is a self-funded athlete who had to pay his own travel expenses to the Commonwealth Games. One of the ways he raised funds was by holding an exhibition tournament at his training centre.
The advantage then swung decisively Canada’s way in Women’s Singles, with No.19 Michelle Li (BWF home page) proving her superiority over No.120 Verdet Kessler. Li needed just 35 minutes to overpower Kessler 21-16 21-13.
But Australia refused to buckle. Ross Smith and Robbin Middleton held off a strong challenge from Derrick Ng/Adrian Liu in the second game of their Men’s Doubles match to prevail 21-11 21-17.
It was down to the last match (Women’s Doubles). Australia’s Renuga Veeran/Tang He Tian were favoured to beat the scratch combination of Michelle Li/Rachel Honderich, but it was the less fancied pair that scripted an unlikely victory after a tense first game, 26-24 21-12, to give Canada a memorable victory. This was Canada’s second victory of the day after they beat Wales 4-1 in the morning session.
Guernsey’s defeat of Seychelles was just as tense a tie. The two teams were level at 2-2 going into the fifth match (Women’s Doubles). Guernsey’s Elena Johnson/Gayle Lloyd (above) just about snatched victory over Juliette Ah-wan/Allisen Camille: 21-17 16-21 21-19.
The closest finish of the day was seen in the Ghana-Uganda tie which went into the fifth match. Evelyn Botwe/Stella Amasah were involved in a titanic struggle with Daisy Nakalyango/ Margaret Nankabirwa in the Women’s Doubles encounter which finally ended 15-21 21-17 26-24 for Botwe/Amasah, helping Ghana to a 3-2 victory.
Title contenders India, England and Singapore had no trouble in quelling their challengers. India eased past Kenya 5-0 in Group B, while Singapore recorded the same margin against South Africa in Group E. Hosts Scotland impressed with a one-sided result over New Zealand (5-0) in Group C and England enjoyed similar domination over Jersey in Group F.
India yet again experimented with their line-up, fielding scratch combinations: Guru Sai Dutt with Pranaav Chopra in Men’s Doubles, PV Sindhu with Jwala Gutta in Women’s Doubles and Srikant Kidambi with Jwala Gutta in Mixed Doubles.
England, on the other hand, stuck to their proven combinations. Chris Langridge/Heather Olver (above) powered England to victory by taking the opening Mixed Doubles match over Mark Constable/Mariana Agathangelou 21-7 21-13.