Bowls: Scots contingent dish up a strong show in New Delhi

SCOTLAND'S bowlers chalked up nine wins from their 12-match day-three schedule in New Delhi to guarantee themselves places in the knockout stages in five of the six events in the 8 Nation Invitations Test Series.

Going into the concluding round robin deciders today, the top two finishers are automatically allocated berths in the semi-finals and the teams who finish in third through to sixth place will go into the hat for a four-way play-off to decide who will provide the opposition for the semi-finalists.

Yesterday though, East Lothian's Paul Foster made his intentions clear as he got back to winning ways, producing the goods in straights sets against India's Mohammad Raja and England's Sam Tolchard to set up a head to head for an outright semis place against Aussie Leif Selby.

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The winner will be virtually assured of joining Northern Ireland's Gary Kelly who has already secured top spot and is unbeaten. Foster and Selby will do battle to take the other place, with world champion Safaun Said from Malaysia also in the mix depending on his concluding round score against Englishman Tolchard.

With a defeat from England followed by a tie-break win over New Zealand, Wayne Hogg, Willie Wood and David Peacock are also finely poised to go straight into the semi-finals, but they need to beat Neil Booth's Northern Ireland threesome. Irrespective of today's results, Australia will take one of the two semi-final places.

On the minus side for the men, West Lothian's Neil Speirs and Darren Burnett are out of contention. Yesterday they lost their fifth and sixth-round matches to South Africa and then India to end their Test challenge.

The women, however, have made it through in all three disciplines. Auchinleck's Claire Johnston had an outstanding day. New to this level of competition, she did it the hard way, first beating world No.1 and reigning world champion Val Smith in straight sets and then battling back from losing the opening set to come good against top Springbok Helen Grundlingh.

With Australia and New Zealand leading her singles section, and wrapping up the round robin against each other, Johnston knows that nothing short of a victory against Commonwealth champion Zalina Ahmad will be good enough for her to be omitted from the squaring up play-off qualifier.

It's a similar story for Lynn Stein, East Lothian's Lauren Baillie and skip Agnes Melrose from Midlothian in the triples. They came storming back into contention yesterday, producing wins over Commonwealth champions Malaysia and then South Africa.

With the Scots playing section leaders India, their chance of an outright semi-final berth will depend on results in the matches involving Australia and Malaysia.

The pairs though will have no such worries with Lanarkshire duo Margaret Letham and Caroline Brown the only unbeaten team, showing four points clear of nearest rivals Australia, South Africa and Malaysia. The six titles will be decided tomorrow.