6:06 am
16 Jul 2024

Basit Bashes Favourite Ghosal Out Of World Juniors

20 Aug 2004

Unheralded Basit Ashfaq maintained hosts Pakistan's sensational run in the PIA Men's World Junior Championship when he knocked out top seed Saurav Ghosal in a shock fourth round upset today at the new Mushaf Squash Complex in Islamabad.

Equalling Australia's record in 1984, Pakistan have six players through to the quarter-finals - whilst England, whose two players Chris Simpson and James Wright both fell at today's last sixteen stage, are without representation in the last eight for the first time in the event's 24-year history.

The Ashfaq/Ghosal encounter seemed to give credence to the old maxim that 'size matters': The 6' 2" Pakistani dwarfed the 5' 7" favourite who was seeded to become India's first winner of the title. In Ashfaq's favour was the reach and power factor, but against this was his inability to clear the path of the ball - which cost the giant Pakistani heavily when he conceded five scoring strokes in a row in the second game.

The first game was close with Ghosal, the reigning British Junior Open champion, making errors and trying to get to grip with appropriate tactics to use against his opponent, seeded in the 9/16 group and therefore not expected to progress beyond this round. After losing the opening game, Ghosal swept through the second without dropping a point.

By the third, the favourite's errors reappeared, and in particular the mistake of opening up the court for the lethal Pakistani forehand drive which often proved unreachable. From 1-7 down, Ghosal tightened up a great deal and fought back to level - but an error and opening for the forehand proved fatal. Game four saw the Indian trying more short play, but now Ashfaq was more confident, volleying more and better, and again he opened out the same lead. An immensely long rally at 3-7 eventually finished with a Pakistani error - and soon afterwards the Pakistani held on to win 9-5 0-9 9-7 9-6, much to the delight of the large crowd of home supporters.

Ashfaq will now face compatriot Amir Atlas Khan, another giant-killer who become the first unseeded player through to the quarter-finals when he beat Germany's Jens Schoor 9-5 9-3 4-9 9-4. The 14-year-old Pakistani, who against the odds became Pakistan's National Junior (U19) Champion last month, reached the last sixteen by upsetting England's 5/8 seed Tom Richards.

Shah Nawaz also claimed a quarter-final place against the odds when he beat England's Chris Simpson, a 5/8 seed, 7-9 9-4 9-0 9-6. The unseeded Pakistani next takes on compatriot Khalid Atlas Khan, the second seed who in the last match of the day triumphed 9-1 5-9 9-2 9-1 over Canada's Robin Clarke.

4th round results:

[9/16] Basit Ashfaq (PAK) bt [1] Saurav Ghosal (IND) 9-5, 0-9, 9-7, 9-6
Amir Atlas Khan (PAK) bt [17/32] Jens Schoor (GER) 9-5, 9-3, 4-9, 9-4
[5/8] Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt [9/16] James Wright (ENG) 9-1, 9-7, 9-2
[3/4] Farhan Mehboob (PAK) bt [9/16] Christopher Gordon (USA) 9-4, 9-4, 9-5
[3/4] Mahmoud Adel (EGY) bt [9/16] Campbell Grayson (NZL) 9-5, 10-8, 9-3
[5/8] Yasir Butt (PAK) bt [9/16] Simon Rosner (GER) 9-2, 9-3, 9-3
Shah Nawaz (PAK) bt [5/8] Chris Simpson (ENG) 7-9, 9-4, 9-0, 9-6
[2] Khalid Atlas Khan (PAK) bt [9/16] Robin Clarke (CAN) 9-1, 5-9, 9-2, 9-1