Ghosal's silver-lining moment

Ghosal's silver-lining moment

Indian ace squanders a championship point against Kuwait’s Almezayen to lose out on gold.

 India’s Saurav Ghosal let slip away a maiden gold well within his grasp, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in the men’s squash individual final of the 17th Asian Games here on Tuesday.

Having already created history on Monday when he assured himself of a first squash silver ever for the country, the 28-year-old appeared seemingly on course for a golden tryst at the Yeorumul Courts but suffered a stunning collapse to from a match point against Kuwaiti Abdullah Almezayen 12-10, 11-2, 12-14, 8-11, 9-11.

 “Personally it is a failure for me,” a completely downcast Ghosal, choking back tears, told the media. “I came here with an intention of winning the gold and nothing else. I just don’t know what went wrong in the final three games.

“Yes, he started to play well and some of his returns were brilliant. He is very deceptive and keeps his opponent always guessing. All credit to him for making a brilliant comeback and I don’t kon how long it will take for me to recover mentally. I’m completely shattered despite silver itself being a big achievement.”

For the opening 30 minutes of the match, there was no indication of the turnaround the Kuwaiti effected. After winning a hard-fought opening game where neither gave an inch, World No 16 Saurav stepped on the accelerator in the second where he completely floored the World No 46.

Playing with plenty of spark and determination, Saurav made the best of a distracted Abdullah, who appeared upset with some of the close calls that went against him. Saurav fed off that brilliantly, showing no mercy whatsoever as he tore apart the Kuwaiti with a mix of attack and guile.

In no time he raced to 9-0 lead and while Abdullah managed to win two points, he couldn’t stop Saurav from galloping away to a two games to nil lead.

Saurav then started proceedings in the third exactly from where he had left off in the second. He opened a 2-0 lead and in that short spell he seemed to have the Kuwaiti pinned on the mat with his energy and determination.

However, egged on by almost the entire Kuwaiti contingent who thronged the main court and nearly lifted the roof with their raucous cheers, Abdullah scripted a comeback from the dead.

He opened up an 8-4 lead to impose himself for the first time in the match but Saurav was game for the fightback, knocking off everything Abdullah threw at him before earning his first match point at 12-11 when the Kuwaiti failed to connect a smashing shot following a long rally.

Abdullah regained his composure though and kept himself alive in the contest, sealing the game 14-12 with a rasping shot of his own.

The failure of converting the championship point had a telling effect on Saurav as he lost the crucial points in the fourth game, this time he being upset over close calls by the raferee that went the Kuwaiti’s way.

With momentum on his side, Abullah set the pace in the deciding game, running Saurav ragged with his wicked shots and notched up a championship point at 10-7. Having lost his way inexplicably after being within touching distance from reaching the shores, Saurav attempted one final push by saving two match points.

The comeback didn’t have a fairytale ending like Abdullah’s though after he failed to meet a delightful backhand from the Kuwaiti. Completely stunned, Abdullah just collapsed on the court as the Kuwaiti contingent went into a delirium.

Saurav threw his racquet, trudged off the court and sunk into his knees in utter shock.Meanwhile, Malaysian great Nicol David won her third straight singles gold, defeating compatriot Wee Wern Low 9-11, 11-6, 11-5, 12-10 in the women’s final.

India edge Jordan 

India, sans Ghosal, scraped through Jordan 2-1 in their opening Pool B match.Kush Kumar and the experienced Harinder Pal Sandhu won their singles matches to take India home in the absence of Ghosal, who sat out of the match after losing the individual final. 

Mahesh Mangaonkar went down in the second singles. Kumar, who became the first Indian to make World Junior Championships semifinals last month, beat Albraikat Saif Yousef Irsheid 11-6, 11-7, 11-9 to give his team a 1-0 advantage in the contest.Another young Indian Managonkar gave Alsaraj Ahmad Khaleel Ahmad a tough fight before going down 9-11, 9-11, 12-10 11-8 to take the game to tie to the decider.

The onus was now on the senior pro Sandhu to bail India out of trouble and he did not disappoint as he won 11-8, 11-7, 8-11, 11-5 against Alsarraj Mohammad Khalil Ahmad to seal the tie 2-1.

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