India lost to Malaysia 2-1 in a Pool-H match of the World men's team squash championship here on Tuesday. The result notwithstanding India having finished second in the pool, qualified for the pre-quartefinal where it will play the winner of Germany and Scotland.
On paper this was an upset considering India was seeded 8, one above Malaysia. Both teams seemed equally balanced but Malaysian players showed the ability to win the big points in the end.
The matches went very close and in the end it was a case of victory being close but just eluding India. “It was disheartening overall, having come so close. Both Ghosal and Sandhu looked good to win but it did not happen,” Cyrus poncha, the National Coach said.
It started with the first match where India's number one player Saurav Ghosal ran the Malaysian opponent Nafiizwan Adnan close till the last. In fact Ghosal had led 2-1 at one stage but let go the advantage. Then in the decisive fifth game, he led 9-6 just two points away from victory but lost the plot there. Ghosal lost 8-11, 11-8, 11-5, 4-11, 9-11.
Mahesh Mangaonkar, who came next, played with lot of control particularly after dropping the first game against Mohd Syafiq Kamal. The Malaysian left hander look nippy in his movement and made the most of the first game. But unluckily for him, he developed a niggle in right knee and even took a three-minute injury break. Mahesh saw the situation and played with lot of intelligence to wear his opponent down 8-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-5 and restoring parity.
The focus was on Harinder Pal Sandh for India, the man who generally revels in crisis situation. But playing a former world junior champion Eain Yow Ng required more than grit which the Indian showed in plenty.
Sandhu was slow to settle but once he got going had the Malaysian erring repeatedly to take 2-1 lead with some fascinating drives. Just when it seemed he would close it out, Eain bounced back with a change of strategy. Controlling the pace and mixing the strokes intelligently, he had Sandhu groping and lunging to difficulties. Eain grabbed the next two games and the match to give Malaysia the tie 3-2. Harinder lost 7-11, 11-5, 11-8, 6-11, 5-11.
Malaysia bt India 2-1 (Saurav Ghosal lost to Nafiizwan Adnan 8-11, 11-8, 11-5, 4-11, 9-11; Mahesh Mangaonkar bt Mohd Syafiq Kamal 8-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-5; Harinderpal Sandhu lost to Eain Yow Ng 7-11, 11-5, 11-8, 6-11, 11-5).