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Kashyap enters quarters, creates history

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Kashyap enters quarters, creates history
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London: Shuttler Parupalli Kashyap created history by becoming the first Indian male player to enter the singles quarter-finals at Olympics, defeating Sri Lankan Niluka Karunaratne in three games here.

Kashyap won a tough match 21-14, 15-21, 21-9, in one hour and six minutes at the Wembley Arena. The previous best performance was by Dipankar Bhattarcharjee in the 1992 Barcelona Games where he lost the third round match to Chinese Zhao Jianhua.

It was a topsy-turvy match. To start with, Kashyap was rattled by the Sri Lankan who attacked his way to a 6-1 lead. The Hyderabadi fought back to make it 7-7 and the Sri Lankan World No.48 started losing momentum.

Kashyap found his touch and quickly jumped to a 15-10 lead. There were not many long rallies and with some imaginative returns he progressed to 19-14. Then a couple of smart backhand flicks and the first game was Kashyap's in 20 minutes.

Karunaratne, who earlier upset eighth seeded Kenichi Tago in his group match, again took an 11-3 lead at the break. This time he made sure he did not give his opponent a window to stage a comeback. The World No.48 raced to gamepoint, making sure the Indian had little chance of catching up (20-7).

Yet, Kashyap did not give up and fought back to reel off eight points with some devil-may-care smashes, the most pleasing being cross-court. The Sri Lankan eventually got the winning point to take the match into a decider.

Midway through the game, the Sri Lankan was spoken to by the umpire for his on-court antics after winning every point. His war dance was missing in the decider.

It was a neck-and-neck fight for supremacy till 5-all in the third game when Kashyap took off. With his court-craft and deft work at the net, he steadily built up a handy lead (12-6).

From then on, there was no stopping the Pullela Gopichand protege and Karunaratene could not keep pace with the Indian.

A stream of unforced errors by the Sri Lankan saw Kashyap racing to a 16-7 lead and thereafter it was a matter of time before the World No.21 raised his arms in triumph.

Kashyap now faces a tougher challenge in the last eight as he will either meet top seed and Beijing Games silver medallist Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia or Indonesian's World No.6 Simon Santoso.

IANS

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