April

Scotland into the quarter-finals despite loss to top seeds India

Kirsty Gilmour paid tribute to the effort of her Scottish teammates despite suffering their first mixed team defeat of the Commonwealth Games.

Victories over Sri Lanka and Pakistan on day one had already assured Scotland’s place in the quarter-finals but they missed out on the perfect record following defeat to top seeds India.

A 5-0 defeat was far less than what the efforts warranted with Julie MacPherson among those putting in a fair showing in her defeat to 2010 Commonwealth singles champion Saina Nehwal.

Gilmour herself had a new experience, playing alongside women’s doubles partner Eleanor O’Donnell, but is hopeful of taking the lessons forward into the rest of their time on the Gold Coast.

"Considering we have never played together, it was a very big ask against a very good pair,” said Gilmour of her new partnership.

"We had realistic expectations coming into the match against India as a whole because they are an incredibly strong badminton country.

"One of our outcomes was to try some new things out and I think we did OK under the circumstances.

"Julie went in with a bit of apprehension, perhaps. Anyone who steps out onto the court toe-to-toe with Saina does.

"She is the former world No.1 for a reason, but Julie gave a great showing and surprised herself but we weren’t surprised. We were very pleased with her performance."

It was MacPherson who got the rubber underway against Nehwal, falling to a 21-14 21-12 defeat despite pushing her all the way.

Then came Kieran Merrilees’ chance to take to the court with singles top seed and World No. 2 Srikanth Kidambi the other side of the net.

Things started well for the Scot, holding a narrow lead before missing out in the first game 21-18 but the luck and form deserted him thereon, losing the second game 21-2.

Following the men’s singles came the women’s doubles with Gilmour and O’Donnell testing out their new partnership, more than holding their own against N. Sikki Reddy and Ashwini Ponnappa.

But a straight games defeat came their way too, losing 21-8 21-12 as India were confirmed winners of the tie.

Scotland continued to plug away with the men’s doubles also seeing them on the end of some tight games, with Patrick MacHugh and Adam Hall beaten 21-16 21-19 by Satwik Rankireddy and Chirag Chandrashekhar Shetty.

“From our perspective [the match was] pretty decent. We’ve only played one competitive match together so to go out there on a stage like this and play the number two seeds, we put in a pretty good performance I think,” said Hall.

“We do train together but playing at the Commonwealth Games is a bit different.

“We weren’t far away there. We had a lead in the first at 15-12 and then just got a bit tense and made a few mistakes, which was a bit frustrating. But we were with them the full way in the second set. Again, an error or two here or there but I really don’t think we are that far away.”

And MacPherson returned to the court late in the day with Martin Campbell for company this time around, missing out 21-17 21-15 in the mixed doubles, though the pair were determined to take the many positives from the match against Pranaav Chopra and Reddy.

“They got off to quite a good start but I felt that when we were in the rallies we were challenging them,” said MacPherson.

“We were quite solid in defence but they are an experienced pair and it was always going to be a tough one.”

While Campbell added: “Going into the match we were obviously massive underdogs. They are one of the top teams in the world so it was always going to be tricky.

“The team put out a good performance and really made them work for it.”

But for Scotland, objective one of their Commonwealth Games has been completed, reaching Saturday’s quarter-finals, with some strong performances to build on when they take on Malaysia in the quarter-finals at 8.30am UK-time on Saturday 7 April.