Brilliant Joshna guides India to final

Brilliant Joshna guides India to final

GIANT SLAYER: India’s Joshna Chinappa (left) during her team’s semifinal match against Malaysia’s Nicol David in Jakarta on Friday. Joshna won 12-10, 11-9, 6-11, 10-12, 11-9. PTI

Joshna Chinappa used defeat as a stepping stone in stunning manner to guide India to the final of the Asian Games women’s team squash, defeating the fancied Malaysia 2-0 on Friday.

Joshna, who had suffered a crushing loss in the league match against Hong Kong China on Thursday, put that behind her to script a thrilling win over Malaysia’s eight-time world champion Nicol David. 

Riding on that momentum, Dipika Pallikal then brushed aside Wee Wern Low in the second singles as India set up a gold medal clash with Hong Kong China. In the second semifinal, Hong Kong China defeated Japan 2-0. 

The Indian men’s team, champions in 2014, settled for bronze this time, suffering a 0-2 defeat to Hong Kong China in the semifinal. 

Joshna was in tears after losing to Annie Au Wing of Hong Kong China in India’s 1-2 defeat that set up the clash with Malaysia. The Indian was a transformed player on Friday as she outwitted David 12-10, 11-9, 6-11, 10-12, 11-9 in the vital first singles.

“After yesterday’s match, I was feeling very upset. I spoke to my coach, to my parents. I wasn’t playing the way I should have been playing,” said a smiling Joshna, who had beaten Nicol for the first time at the El Gouna Open in Egypt in April.

“I refocused, went back to the basics, didn’t think of winning or losing. I was only thinking about playing good squash. I wanted to be myself and play good squash — that makes me relaxed and enjoy the game.” 

Playing with that positive attitude, the Indian fought back from 8-10 down to pocket the first game and also prevailed in the second. But Nicol, a five-time Asian Games champion, rallied to take the third and fourth, after surviving a match-ball in the fourth. 

The decider was closely fought but at 7-7, Joshna edged ahead and wrapped it up on her second match ball to raise the Indian spirits. India number two Dipika didn’t let the advantage slip, despatching Low 11-2, 11-9, 11-7 to complete the upset win. The celebrations were limited to the women’s squad as the men were sent packing by Hong Kong China.

Saurav Ghoshal’s 7-11, 9-11, 11-13 defeat to Lee Ho Hyun in the first singles put India under pressure.

Harindar Pal Singh Sandhu couldn’t convert the chances he had against Au Chun Ming losing 9-11, 11-9, 9-11, 3-11, marking the end of the road for India.

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