World junior number one Dipika Pallikal and third seed Saurav Ghosal kept alive Indian hopes sailing into the women's and men's semi-inals respectively in the 15th Asian Squash Championship in Chennai on Sunday.
Pallikal, ranked 38 in WISPA list, was the cynosure of all eyes as she took just 32 minutes to beat Misaki Kobayashi of Japan 12-10,11-8,11-6.
In the semi-final on Monday, Pallikal, however, has a remote chance of progressing to the summit clash being drawn to play world number one and defending champion, Nicol David of Malaysia, while Rebecca Chiu (Hong Kong) take on her compatriot Joey Chan in the other last four stage tie.
Ghosal too runs into defending champion and top seeded Mohd Azlan Iskander of Malaysia while the other men's semifinal would be between Pakistanis Aamir Atlas Khan and Yasir Ali Butt, who created a major upset disposing of second seed Ong Beng Hee (MAL) 10-12, 11-8, 11-8, 11-9.
Ghosal defeated Farhan Mehboob 11-7, 11-1, 11-6 in 35 minutes, Iskander quelled a fighting Kuwaiti Abdulla Almzayen 13-11, 11-7, 12-10 in 50 minutes and Atlas Khan ousted Mohd Nafizwan (MAL) 12-10, 11-8, 11-5 in the quarter-finals.
Earlier in the morning, the progress of three other Indian players Siddharth Suchde, Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu and Ritwik Bhattachrya was halted by higher ranked rivals.
Sandhu went down fighting to Yasir Ali Butt (Pak) 11-8, 7-11, 6-11, 7-11, while Bhattacharya lost to Beng Hee 7-11, 8-11, 6-11.
Suchde (ranked 80) took a 2-0 lead but lost his way thereafter against Nafizwan, who won 11-13, 11-13, 13-11, 11-8, 11-8 in a marathon 106 minute match. Ghosal proved he was more potentially talented and displayed variety in his shot selections.
He was able to bring up and down the pace of his returns for winners against Mehboob, who appeared to be a mere tourist in Sunday's match.
Credit should be given to Ghosal, who touched his rhythm from 7-7 in the first game and then rallied to wrap-up the match in the third.
After 18-year-old Pallikal made her smooth passage to the last four, Joshna Chinappa, ranked 31, failed to sustain the onslaught of experienced Chiu (rank 18) on the Centre Court. Chiu won 11-5, 11-13, 11-7 11-6 in 39 minutes.
In the other women matches, David steamrolled Song Sun Mi of Korea at 11-4, 11-7, 11-4 and Chan scored a minor upset disposing of Malaysia's Delia Arnold 11-4, 11-4, 11-6.
In her quarter-final, Pallikal, for the second day in succession, was seen having the match on her side all through after a tight first game, which she won on extra points.
Pallikal, who was crafty with her whipping forehand drives and solid backhand, was focused and rarely missed her chances, excepting at the fag end of the match.
In fact, Pallikal waited like a hawk for her prey in both the second and third games, where she trailed by a slender margin before adjusting herself in time to close the games.
Perhaps, she sensed victory on her assessment of the rival in her ploy to come from behind to remain supreme.
In the match between experienced Chiu and Chinappa, the latter failed to cash in on the chances that came her way.
Chiu saw more of the ball in the third and fourth games, like in the first and at times, played in a casual manner.
The closest that Chinappa could progress in the first game was 2-7 before losing it at 5-11 but took a 4-0 lead in the next. Chiu did fight back to be on level terms at 8-8 but Chinappa with delicate drops to 10-8 before winning the game on serve.
This was the only good patch of the match for the Indian as Chinappa was forced to err on numerous occasions to yield the ground to Chiu.