Abhay wins gold for India by beating Pak in gripping squash team event decider

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 India’s Abhay Singh beat Pakistan’s Noor Zaman and won gold for India after coming from behind in a thrilling third match of an exciting tie in the finals of the Asian Games 2023 men’s squash event here on Saturday.

Abhay clinched the yellow metal after he was ominously behind 8-10 in the clinching set, but the Indian player kept his cool and snapped up two crucial points to keep India’s hope alive, and winning two more points to overpower Pakistan player 12-10.

After notching up the victory, Abhay fell on his back in celebration, banging his palms on the court in mirth, and ran towards the Indian contingent outside the playing arena and hugged an India official as he shed tears of happiness.

India began the tie poorly with Mahesh Mangaonkar losing in straight games against Nasir Iqbal.

After a competitive first game, which Mangaonkar as 11-8, Nasir won the next two 11-3, 11-2 to give Pakistan a 1-0 lead in the tie.

Saurav Ghosal brought India back to reckoning by decimating Muhammad Asim Khan 11-5, 11-1, 11-3 in the second match.

In an enthralling decider, Abhay won the first game before losing the next two. The Indian squash player, however, dug deep to beat Noor Zaman 3-2 (11-7, 9-11, 8-11, 11-9, 12-10) to clinch the tie in India’s favour.

Abhay, 25, saved two championship points in the deciding game to deny Pakistan.

This was India’s second-ever gold medal in squash at the Asian Games. The previous one was also won by the men’s team – at Incheon 2014. Ghosal and Mangaonkar were also a part of the champion team from Incheon.

En route to the final, the Indian men’s squash team registered a hard-fought 2-0 victory over 2018 champions Malaysia in the semi-finals. They made the knockouts after finishing second behind Pakistan in Pool A. Only the top two teams from each pool progressed to the last-four.

The Indian men’s team had finished with a bronze medal at the 2018 Jakarta Games in Indonesia.

The women’s team ended its Hangzhou 2023 squash campaign with a bronze medal after losing to Hong Kong China in the semi-finals on Friday.

Indian squash players will next be in action in the singles and mixed doubles events which start on October 1.

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