India finish seventh in World Squash

Mulhouse (France), June 16 (IANS) Saurav Ghosal fought through the pain barrier to help India become the highest ranked Asian nation at the WSF Men’s World Team Squash Championship here while England upset Egypt 2-1 in the final to claim the title.

India beat Malaysia 2-0 Saturday with Mahesh Mangaonkar and Saurav Ghosal winning in contrasting styles on the final day of the championships. Malaysia finished eighth and Pakistan lost to Scotland to finish 10th in the final rankings. Hong Kong, Kuwait and Japan finished further down the order.

Mangaonkar was first on court against World No.60 Muhammad Asyraf Azan, known to be a temperamental player. Mangaonkar was disciplined throughout the game testing Azan’s patience and his mental and physical fortitude.

Mangaonkar kept to his game plan and the rallies going as he ground out the points in the first game. The Indian’s strategy paid off as he won the tight game 14-12.

In the second game, Mangaonkar got in front of Azan and controlled the pace. Azan, the Asian Championship semifinalist, struggled to find a way past the Indian youngster who went on to take the second and third games to give India a 1-0 lead.

With the first match in the bag, it was left to India No.1 Ghosal to seal the victory against Malaysian champion Ong Beng Hee, ranked No.7.

Ghosal started off well but the workload this week took its toll as he struggled to run on court. The Indian was hampered by cramps in his quadriceps and hamstring groin whenever he tried to step on his left leg, but he soldiered on though Hee took the first two games 11-6, 11-7.

Ghosal’s burning desire to win for India saw him push through the pain, and he began to stretch for every point in the third game. Hee kept to his game plan but Ghosal had too much skill and desire to let go of the match as he eked out the third game 12-10.

Ghosal, hampered in his movement by injury, still proved to be a cut above the Malaysian champion and won the next two games 11-7, 11-9 to seal the match.

Reflecting on the tournament, national coach Cyrus Poncha said: “I am reasonably pleased with the seventh place finish. There is great satisfaction in becoming the highest ranked Asian nation at these championships ahead of traditional powerhouses Malaysia, Pakistan and Hong Kong.”

The results:

7th-place play-off: 8-India beat 5-Malaysia 2-0: Mahesh Mangaonkar bt Muhd Asyraf Azan 14-12, 11-4, 11-7 (49m); Saurav Ghosal bt Ong Beng Hee 6-11, 7-11, 12-10, 11-7, 11-9 (59m).

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