Asian Squash: Saurav falters in final

Saurav Ghosal made a great start against top seed Max Lee, winning the first game 11-5. But in the next three, Lee tired Ghosal out to clinch the gold medal at the 19th Asian Individual Squash Championship final.

Saurav Ghosal was expending twice the energy as his opponent, the top seed Max Lee, for every stride.   -  Ritu Raj Konwar

Saurav Ghosal and India’s wait for a gold in the men’s category of the Asian Individual Squash Championship continued as he lost to top seed Max Lee 11-5, 4-11, 8-11, 7-11 in the final of the 19 edition of the Championship at the Express Avenue Mall in Chennai on Sunday.

A fully packed gallery and corridors that were brimming with curious watchers was the perfect setting for the final of an Asian Championship. The crowds roared their approval for every point Saurav won, but they had to be content seeing the Indian settle for a silver despite clinching the opening game 11-5.

Those 11 points were no easy. The top two seeds of the tournament grinded out long rallies and didn’t give away any free points. It was a matter of who blinked first, and Saurav came out the better player. But that was the first game.    

Saurav, a 11-time national champion, was expending twice the energy as Lee for every stride and the Indian soon began to tire out. He couldn’t pack in enough power and lost the second game 4-11. The third was more about strategy and Lee was tactically more brilliant, avoiding what could have easily been Lets and making the Indian pay despite his body-blocking ways.

Hong Kong’s No. 1 was able to use the ‘Lets’ to his advantage as well and he effectively employed it in the third game to prevent a well-placed Ghosal to hit the winners. After two warnings, the referee awarded the stroke to the Indian, but an inconsistent show did him in.

The fourth and final game followed a similar pattern as the top seed clinched the championship.

“As the match went on, he chose the right shots at the right time. It’s not what I came for. It’s not the best thing in the world. I wanted to win. It’s sad,” Saurav said after settling for silver.