April

Commonwealth double for Scots on the Gold Coast

Alex Dunn is adamant there is no reason Scotland cannot beat India in Friday’s pool decider after already guaranteeing their place in the Commonwealth Games mixed team quarter-finals.

 

Two wins in two matches on the opening day means the Scotland team are assured of the knockout stages even before their last pool match against fellow high-flyers India.

 

That came thanks to two confident wins, beating Pakistan 5-0 before rounding off their first day of action on the Gold Coast with a 4-1 victory over Sri Lanka.

 

Those two sides can no longer catch the Scots but Dunn – who played  in the men’s and mixed doubles – is confident the squad are capable of even bigger achievements against the top seeds.

 

“[Against India] We are up against it because they have top players everywhere, but I don’t see why not if everyone plays their best and gives all they can,” he said.

 

“It does get tight, so it does give us confidence to win points but also puts the opponents off a little, knowing that we are fired up and ready.

 

“It is always good to get the points for the team and I am looking forward to the next round.”

 

Dunn was first on court in Scotland’s opening rubber with Eleanor O’Donnell, with the two putting in an excellent display to beat Pakistan’s Murad Ali and Palwasha Bashir 21-12 21-13.

 

Just 22 minutes were needed for the win while Scotland’s top male singles player Kieran Merrilees followed in similar style in his 21-6 21-16 victory over Muhammad Irfan Saeed Bhatti.

 

And the tie was sealed in the very next event as Kirsty Gilmour – silver medallist in the women’s singles at Glasgow 2014 – was another to prevail in straight games.

 

A 3-0 lead was therefore uncatchable but a clean sweep was still on Scotland’s mind against Pakistan as Martin Campbell and Patrick MacHugh overcame Ali and Bhatti 21-8 21-10, a contest that included nine straight points for the Scots.

 

And O’Donnell was back on court, this time with Julie MacPherson, conceding just ten points in their 21-6 21-4 victory over Mahoor Shahzad and Bashir.

 

“I think the nerves showed a little bit at the start,” said O’Donnell after her mixed doubles win with Dunn.

 

“It’s our first Games so just getting out on court to play our first match was good. I think we settled in quite well which was the most important thing for both of us, just to get it going and get a good lead and win the match. 

 

“Me and Alex have had quite a good year but obviously this is such a big event compared to anything we’ve played before, it’s our first multi-sport event.”

 

Dunn and O’Donnell weren’t able to secure the win against Sri Lanka, however, though their three-game loss to Sachin Dias and Thilini Pramodika Hendahewa was the only blot in Scotland’s copybook.

 

The Scots fought back from a game down to force a decider but, in a third and final outing lasting nearly 30 minutes, they fell agonisingly short in a 27-25 defeat.

 

The long wait could have knocked Merrilees off his stride but the now three-time Commonwealth veteran held his nerve to level up the tie, 21-14 21-17 against Niluka Karunaratne in the men’s singles.

 

And the turnaround was complete when Gilmour needed just 20 minutes to beat Hasini Ambalangodage 21-4 21-5.

 

Dunn and Hall then sealed the third win of the match to give Scotland the overall victory from the men’s doubles, while Gilmour was back on court – this time with MacPherson – coming from a game down to beat Thilini Pramodika Hendahewa and Kavidi Sirimannage in a decider.

 

With a number of players now having made their Commonwealth debuts, a tough but exciting challenge awaits with India the sole encounter on Friday at 14:00-17:30 (05:00-08:30am UK time).