By Rajinder Pal Devgan
Hangzhou, 6 Oct: Mixed Doubles Squash is new to the Asian Games. It’s played on a bigger court than the singles one. Players do find it a little difficult to stay out of each other’s way. And there are quite a few “Yes Lets”.
All eyes were on Harinder and Dipika as they took on their Malaysian opponents.
The first set was close and the score stood at 10-10. The doubles winner team does not need to have a difference of two points to win the game like in Singles but instead it’s sudden death. It’s match point for both. Fortunately, the dice fell India’s way and it was 1-0 in their favour.
In the second set, Harinder and Dipika playing some good aggressive squash raced to a 9-2 lead. With two points away from the gold medal, victory seemed certain. The Malaysians were not ones to give up and made an unbelievable come back, not only levelling the score at 9-9 but moving one ahead 10-9, game ball for them. The Indians were suddenly woken up from their slumber and rallied to make it 10-10. The tension was palpable. A point to the Malaysians would mean a third set. A point to India and it would be game, match and the Gold Medal. And so it was, India won 11-10 and the Gold Medal, a great achievement.
The second match was ladies’ singles between Malaysia and Hong Kong. The match went to five games and was finally won by the fitter Malaysian.
Malaysia Gold, Hongkong Silver.
After the game I bumped into Gursharan Singh, his wife and Anahat. Anahat, representing the Indian Women’s squash team, is just 16 and has two bronze medals to her name in these Asian Games, a mixed team and Team Events. She has a long successful career ahead of her. Could be India’s next Squash star! It was a real pleasure meeting this child prodigy.
I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Gursharan, her father is a former student of Yadavendra Public School, Patiala, where I spent six years as Principal.
On to the Singles Final! It was going to be experience versus youth. Saurav, 37, was taking on his Malaysian opponent Eain Yow Ng, 22.
Saurav cruised through the first game and in no time was up 1-0.
The young Malaysian fought back and made it 1-1. After the second game, Saurav seemed to run out of steam and EY Ng went on to win the match 3-2 and with it the Gold Medal. A real heart break for Saurav, who was hoping to better his earlier Asian Games Silver Medal.
All in all, a great performance by our Squash players. Two Golds, one Silver and two Bronze medals!
(RP Devgan is an Educator and Sportsman)