Pairs justify England's confidence

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England's belief that they have at least two partnerships capable of challenging for major titles gained credibility during the 3-2 victory against China in the first of the six-match series at Sheffield on Wednesday night.

The decider was won 15-5, 15-8 by Chris Hunt and Simon Archer, the European men's doubles champions, against Zhu Feng and Ji Xinpeng. Four months ago these two had a disastrous World Championships, but they looked back to the fitness and fierce-hitting form that made them one of the top six pairs in the world.

The most impressive were Joanne Wright and Julie Bradbury. Their triumph over the world champions, Gil Young-Ah and Jang Hye-Ock, in the final of the Malaysian Open, has enhanced their confidence visibly and their 15-3, 15-8 win, over Zhou Mi and Li Ming Chuan was taken with a hint of swagger.

Wright also won the opening encounter with Nick Ponting, with whom she took last year's All England title.