Saurav, Joshna in final; Lakshya impresses

The eternal champions, Saurav Ghosal and Joshna Chinappa, gave themselves another chance to add to their intimidating record, as they made the finals of the 74th HCL National squash championship at the Shiv Nadar University Indoor Complex on Friday.

Photo of Lakshya Ragavendran (left) who fought her way past Urwashi Joshi in the women's semifinals of the National squash championship in Greater Noida on Friday.   -  Kamesh Srinivasan

The eternal champions, Saurav Ghosal and Joshna Chinappa, gave themselves another chance to add to their intimidating record, as they made the finals of the 74th HCL National squash championship at the Shiv Nadar University Indoor Complex here on Friday.

The two, with 25 national championship titles between, with Joshana having 14, will face familiar opponents whom they have met and beaten before.

Saurav, who was clinical in dismissing Kush Kumar 11-3, 11-3, 11-4 will be challenged by Mahesh Mangaonkar, whom he had beaten in the final a few years ago. Mahesh, who is based in The Hague in the Netherlands as a professional player in recent months was at his fighting best as he tamed second seed Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu 12-10 in the fifth game, converting his second ‘’match ball’’.

“I had beaten Harry last time in the semifinals and lost to Saurav in the final in straight games. I am happy with the way am playing after not playing for two weeks. I need to rectify a few things, but I will be ready tomorrow’’, said the strongly built Mahesh, who could combine power with finesse in a thriller of a match.

Harinder who had stretched Saurav to 12-14 in the fifth game of the final last year, played well in patches and was busy losing his focus in the fifth game, arguing with the umpire on many calls.

Saurav was happy that he could execute his game, especially after a smash from close quarters from a ‘’tight angle’’ by Kush, caught him unawares, but luckily hit his racquet.

“He is really a good player. As long as I enjoy playing, which I did today, it is good. I am focused on what I am capable of, and not think about what my opponent might do,’’ said Saurav, after an exquisite all-round game.

It was an inspiring fare from Lakshya Ragavendran, a fifth year Architecture student of Anna University in Chennai. After losing the first game, in which she had led 6-4, Lakshya turned the match on its head dramatically in the second game that was delicately poised.

Urwashi Joshi, who had played many matches with Lakshya over the last few years, fought back from being 3-9 in that second game and held a ‘game ball’ at 10-9 before an error of judgement cost her a ‘stroke’. Lakshya missed another game point as Urwashi placed deftly, but smashed flawless on the next chance to be on par.

Thereafter, she ran through the next two games, even as Urwashi lost steam. “The fast glass court was an advantage for me. I expected a five-setter, but am happy to make my maiden final. It is a big opportunity for me,’’ said Lakshya, who had lost to Joshana in the National Games final last time in Kerala.

“I have come through tough matches, and am looking forward to playing Joshana, who is a legend. I hope to play my best’’, said the girl from Salem, who has been based in Chennai for long to nurture her squash career.

Joshana, with 14 national titles, and had lost the final last year to Dipika Pallikal, will be looking to catch up with Bhuvaneshwari Kumari, who was watching the semifinal this day, and had won 16 titles on the trot.

 

The results (semifinals):

Men: Saurav Ghosal bt Kush Kumar 11-3, 11-3, 11-4; Mahesh Mangaonkar bt Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu 9-11, 11-3, 11-7, 8-11, 12-10.

Women: Joshana Chinappa bt Tanvi Khanna 11-3, 11-7, 11-5; Lakshya Ragavendran bt Urwashi Joshi 6-11, 14-12, 11-4, 11-1.