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Rediff.com  » Sports » Asian Games: India men down Pakistan to win squash GOLD

Asian Games: India men down Pakistan to win squash GOLD

Source: PTI
September 30, 2023 17:30 IST
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IMAGE: Abhay Singh celebrates after beating Pakistan's Noor Zaman to guide India to the gold medal in the men's squash team event. Photograph: Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters

Abhay Singh won the battle of attrition against Noor Zaman for the biggest prize of his career as top seeds India regained the Asian Games squash gold with an epic 2-1 win over Pakistan in Hangzhou on Saturday.

Before the tournament began, the Indian men's team was expected to step on the top of podium after eight years with its main challenge coming from Malaysia and Pakistan, the sport's powerhouse in the yesteryears.

 

The Saurav Ghosal-led side managed to see off both the opponents on their way to glory.

The win in the final against Pakistan came after the loss to the arch-rivals in the league stage.

Zaman, ranked 113, had got the better of world number 69 Abhay in that contest earlier this week and for the major part of the match on Saturday, it looked going in Pakistan's favour again.

With the final locked at 1-1 after Ghosal and Nasir Iqbal won their respective singles, the gold was going to be decided in the match between 25-year-old Abhay and teenager Zaman.

IMAGE: The Indian men's squash team of Saurav Ghosal, Abhay Singh, Mahesh Mangaonkar and Harinder Pal Sandhu celebrate with the gold medal. Photograph: Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters

Zaman led 9-7 in the fourth game and had two match balls at 10-8 in the deciding game but the Indian somehow managed to turn it around for a memorable win. The final scoreline read 11-7, 9-11, 8-11, 11-9, 12-10.

"We should have won three nights ago also as we were the better team. I am happy that we won today. No time for celebrations as have got matches tomorrow," said Abhay.

The athleticism from players was remarkable as the contest involved breathtaking rallies and winners. Zaman had the younger legs but was guilty of making more unforced errors than his opponent.

"Considering the circumstances, it was surely the biggest win of Abhay's career," said Ghosal, the highest-ranked Indian at 19.

Not a lot is known about Abhay who turned professional back in 2017 but that should change after Saturday. After he levelled the match 2-2, it was clear that he did not need a lot of coaching from his teammates. In his first Asian Games, he knew what we was doing.

It was a tough loss to swallow for the young Zaman who was seen weeping after a 64-minute marathon.

IMAGE: Saurav Ghosal in action during his match against Pakistan's Muhammad Asim Khan. Photograph: Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters

Abhay's special effort came after the seasoned Ghosal brought the Indians back into the contest with a 11-5, 11-1, 11-3 win over Muhammad Asim Khan.

Mahesh Mangaonkar lost the opener to Iqbal Nasir 8-11, 2-11. 3-11.

India last won a men's team squash gold in the 2014 edition of the games in Incheon, while the Pakistanis last claimed gold in 2010 in Guanzhou.

Ghosal, playing his sixth Asian Games, will now shift his focus to winning a maiden gold in the individual competition, having tallied three bronze and a silver in singles since Busan 2002.

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