Pakistan Foil Favourites India To Set Up Thrilling Last Pools Day In Hangzhou
28 Sep 2023
No.4 seeds Pakistan produced a spectacular performance to shock top seeds India and blow the race to join Malaysia and Hong Kong in the semi-finals wide open on the second day of the men's team event at the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China.
Meanwhile, in the women's event, the pre-tournament favourites continued to impress as Malaysia, India and Hong Kong qualified for the last four, where they will be joined by either Japan or Republic of Korea.
With the day's string order 2-3-1, it was up to 19-year-old Noor Zaman to lead out 2010 champions Pakistan, with the Peshawar native impressing as he got his side off to a perfect start with a 3/1 win over India's Abhay Singh.
In a frenetic and tense decisive match that wowed the crowd at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre, Nasir Iqbal was able to complete the upset, with the 29-year-old's grit under pressure helping him to an 11-6, 13-11, 9-11, 11-8 win over Mahesh Mangaonkar.
"It's a really proud moment for me and my country," said Pakistan team manager Fahim Gul. "We knew how tough this India side is and they're playing very good squash. We really prepared ourselves for their level and it's a very happy moment for me, my country and my boys."
That win for Pakistan ensures a three-way fight tomorrow for the two qualifying positions at the top of Pool A.
The No.4 seeds, who are now top with four wins from four, will take on Kuwait, who are in the hunt for a first semi-final spot since 2014 after winning three of their four ties. India, despite the defeat, are also on three wins and will be looking to record a decisive score against Nepal.
In Pool B, Malaysia and Hong Kong qualified for the semi-finals after Malaysia recorded wins over Thailand and Japan, while Hong Kong also beat Japan, as well as Philippines.
In the women's event, Malaysia, India and Hong Kong all qualified for the semi-finals after maintaining their unbeaten records. In Pool A, Hong Kong beat Republic of Korea 3/0 and then edged past Japan 2/1 in an entertaining encounter to make it four wins from four.
In Pool B, Malaysia and India will go head-to-head for top spot in the pool after both sides comfortably beat beat Macau, with India also beating Nepal 3/0.
Japan and Republic of Korea will battle it out for the last qualifying spot remaining, when the two sides meet in the first tie of the day.