Hangzhou: In a gripping final showdown at the Asian Games 2023 men’s team squash event, India emerged victorious against arch-rivals Pakistan, securing the gold medal in Hangzhou on Saturday. The much-anticipated clash saw India prevail with a 2-1 win, marking a triumphant moment in the history of Indian squash.
The final commenced with Mahesh Mangaonkar representing India but facing a tough challenge from Nasir Iqbal. Despite a valiant effort, Mangaonkar succumbed to Iqbal in straight sets, conceding the first match 3-0 (11-8, 11-3, 11-2) in a brief 11-minute encounter.
Undeterred by the initial setback, Saurav Ghosal stepped up for India in the second match, showcasing exceptional resilience. Ghosal fought back from an early deficit against Muhammad Asim Khan to secure a convincing straight-set victory of 3-0 (11-5, 11-1, 11-3), levelling the scores and keeping India’s gold medal hopes alive.
The stage was set for a thrilling decider, and Abhay Singh rose to the occasion for India. In an intense battle, Singh exhibited remarkable determination, winning the first game but losing the next two. However, he rallied back to claim the decisive victory against Noor Zaman, clinching the tie 3-2 (11-7, 9-11, 8-11, 11-9, 12-10) in India’s favor. Singh’s tenacity was evident as he saved two championship points in the deciding game, denying Pakistan the opportunity to turn the tide.
This triumph marks India’s second-ever gold medal in squash at the Asian Games; the previous one was also achieved by the men’s team at Incheon 2014. Notably, Saurav Ghosal and Mahesh Mangaonkar played pivotal roles in the victorious team at Incheon and continued their success in Hangzhou.
Indian squash players are now set to compete in the singles and mixed doubles events scheduled to commence on October 1.