India's challenge in the squash team event at the Commonwealth Games came to an end after the fourth seeded pair of National champions Saurav Ghosal and Joshna Chinappa went down fighting to the Malaysian duo of Nicol David and Beng Hee Ong in the quarter-finals of the mixed doubles on Tuesday.
The Indian pair lost to the third seed Malaysian pair, 5-11, 11-7, 7-11, in a little under 60 minutes at the Siri Fort Sports Complex.
The pair had claimed a place in the last eight of the mixed event after a final qualifying round win over Scottish pair Frania Gillen-Buchert and Alan Clyne and getting a bye in the pre-quarters on Monday.
Nicol David and Beng Hee defeated English pair of Sarah Kippax and Adrian Grant to reach the last eight stage.
"Both of us played well today but that was not enough to secure a win. Team events are altogether a different ball game. There were few things where we could have done better but we fell short of expectations today," said a disappointed Ghosal.
"There were some talks that Joshna did not play well today and committed few errors but she was not at all weak with her game. It's not that if I had played with Dipika (Ghosal's original partner in the mixed doubles), results would have been different. One needs to understand Joshna's strengths are different from that of Dipika's.
"I don't want to use Dipika's absence as an excuse for losing the game. We played well but it was not our day," added the 24-year-old from Kolkata.
Malaysia's David said, "It's always tough to play against these guys. They are good and I had to pick my game up at several junctures. As part of the strategy, the Indians were attacking me and we were attacking Joshna.
"Joshna made a few errors and we got a few lucky points. Ghosal was great with his speed and angular shots. Overall it was a tough game," admitted David.
In the first game, the Malaysian pair was severly tested by the Indian duo, bidding to win India's first squash medal.
Ghosal, who was classy in his approach and execution of shots and dead drops for winners, never let his opponents dominate.
At one stage, the game was locked 4-4, but a few errors of judgement and the Malaysians raced away to a 10-5 lead and settled the issue at 11-5.
At the break, national coach Cyrus Poncha had a brief chat with Ghosal and Chinappa, to remedy specific weaknesses and validate their ideas.
That brief interaction worked, as the Indian pair showcased certain patterns of shots and made excellent use of both forehand and backhand sides before taking the second game 11-7 in 21 minutes.
The third game saw some excellent volleys and good ground-strokes from both the sides but the fourth seed pair failed to rise to the occassion and went down fighting in a keenly-played decider.
After the match, the Chinappa and Ghosal received a standing ovation from the spectators, who recognised their never-ending effort and dedication.
Meanwhile, the day also witnessed other top seed pairs progressing to the next round.
England's women's doubles pair of Jenny Duncalf and Laura Massaro advanced to the final of the event with a 2-1 victory over Australia'sKasey Brown and Donna Urquhart.
The pair won 6-11, 11-5, 11-4 in 54 minutes.
"As soon as we won I got goose-pimples. It's our first tournament together but we felt quietly confident. We have been saying the whole time that anyone in the England team can play together. We have got such a good understanding," Duncalf said.
New Zealand's mixed doubles pair of Martin Knight and Joelle King also secured a place in the semi-finals with a fluent 2-0 victory over their team-mates in the quarter-finals of the event.
They defeated Campbell Grayson and Jaclyn Hawkes 11-6, 11-9 in 50 minutes.