Asian Games: India defeats Pakistan in finals to clinch a dramatic gold medal
India secures a sensational gold medal in the Men’s squash team final at the Asian Games after a thrilling comeback by Abhay Singh against Pakistan.
In a captivating showdown in the Men’s squash team final at the Asian Games, India emerged victorious in dramatic fashion, capping a remarkable comeback orchestrated by Abhay Singh against arch-rivals Pakistan. Abhay Singh’s heroic performance, especially when facing a match point, will be celebrated as one of India’s finest moments in squash.
The thrilling final witnessed Abhay Singh battling back from the brink of defeat, having already levelled the score at 2-2 after winning the fourth game. However, he found himself at a precarious 8-10 deficit in the fifth and deciding game against Pakistan’s Noor Zaman.
To the casual observer, it seemed that the Indian player was on the verge of surrender, having lost the opening game. Yet, the 25-year-old Indian showcased unwavering nerves of steel, executing a sensational turnaround by claiming the next four crucial points. His tenacity, exceptional skills, and never-say-die attitude left his Pakistani counterpart exasperated and sealed a historic victory for India.
India’s first gold medal in squash since 2014 Asian Games
This triumph will be etched into the annals of Indian squash as one of the most remarkable wins, made even sweeter by avenging their earlier loss to Pakistan in the preliminary league. Notably, this victory marks India’s second gold medal in Team competition at the Asian Games, following their maiden triumph in the 2014 Games in Incheon. While squash made its debut in the Asian Games only in 1998 in Bangkok, the team competitions commenced in 2010 in Guangzhou. In 2018, Malaysia clinched the title, while the Indian team secured a bronze medal.
India’s journey to this historic gold was anchored by the seasoned Saurav Ghosal, who orchestrated a remarkable recovery after losing the first match. Abhay Singh’s incredible comeback in the third match elevated India to victory from the jaws of defeat.
In the opening encounter, India got off to a shaky start as Mahesh Mangaonkar succumbed to Niash Iqbal with a scoreline of 8-11, 3-11, 2-11 in just 29 minutes.
Sourav Ghoshal showcases his experience
The tide shifted in India’s favour as Saurav Ghosal showcased his expertise by outplaying Muhammad Asim Khan with a resounding 3-0 victory (11-5, 11-1, 11-3) in a mere 30 minutes. Ghosal’s performance stood in stark contrast to the preceding match between Mangaonkar and Niash Iqbal, where physical confrontations marred the game, and frustration prevailed when decisions did not favour the Indian player.
Ghosal exhibited composure and determination, relying on strategy and skill to outwit his opponent. Abhay Singh then took centre stage with a blend of composed determination and raw emotion, occasionally losing steam as he threw his racquet, which landed deep within the crowd.
Sourav Ghosal on Abhay Singh’s turnaround
Reflecting on the dramatic turnaround, Saurav Ghosal commented, “When we lost to Pakistan earlier in the Asian Games, I thought they (Abhay Singh and Mahesh Mangaonkar) were too emotional, leading to their losses. This is my personal opinion, and I conveyed it to them. I told them that they would have been stronger and won their matches if they had remained calm. Today, Abhay was much calmer, and his victory from match point down is sensational.”
Ranked as the top seed, India enjoyed comfortable 3-0 victories against Singapore, Qatar, and Kuwait in Pool A before succumbing to Pakistan’s 2-1 victory.
Advancing to the semifinals, India faced Malaysia and secured a superb 2-0 win, setting the stage for a thrilling rematch with Pakistan. Saurav Ghosal shared that both days were challenging for the Indian team.
Ghosal had anticipated a second encounter with Pakistan and continuously encouraged his teammates to maintain composure during the match, cautioning against succumbing to emotions and nerves.
He remarked, “I knew from the start that we would have a second chance against Pakistan. Losing to Pakistan was no disgrace. They are a top team and have consistently proven themselves over the years, including here. So, I kept telling the guys that, ‘Despite being top seeds, there will be pressure. People may say they lost, but it doesn’t change the fact that we’re starting from 0-0. It doesn’t change the fact that we’ve given our all.'”
Abhay Singh described this victory as the highlight of his career and expressed gratitude for the support and encouragement he received from Saurav Ghosal. He emphasized how Ghosal’s guidance helped him remain calm under pressure and that the emotional moment after winning the match was a release of pent-up emotions.
When asked about his thoughts while facing match point, Abhay Singh revealed that he focused on fighting one point at a time, detaching himself from the awareness that it was a match point.