New Delhi, October 1: In an edge-of-the-seat contest, India rode on Abhay Singh's heroics to knock out arch-rivals Pakistan 2-1 in the final to win the Gold in the team squash event at the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China on Saturday.
The final turned out to be a thrilling affair from the start as Mahesh Mangaonkar lost the opener before Saurav Ghosal levelled the scores. Abhay Singh then chalked out a nerve-wracking win in the decider as he saved two championship points to regain the title after a gap of nine years.
Interestingly India had also lost 1-2 to Pakistan in the group stage earlier this week.
Mahesh Mangaonkar opened the proceedings for India but struggled against Nasir Iqbal and went down 3-0 (11-8, 11-3, 11-2) in just 11 minutes.
Saurav Ghosal then drew the level with a straight-set win in the second match. The Indian trailed in the initial stages of his match but rallied back to beat Muhammad Asim Khan 3-0 (11-5, 11-1, 11-3) and kept India in the hunt.
In an enthralling decider, Abhay Singh won the first game before losing the next two. The Indian, however, dug deep to beat Noor Zaman 3-2 (11-7, 9-11, 8-11, 11-9, 12-10) to clinch the tie in his team's favour. The 25-year-old saved two championship points in the deciding game to deny Pakistan the top podium finish.
This was India’s second-ever gold medal in squash at the Asian Games. The previous one was also won by the men’s team - at Incheon 2014. Saurav Ghosal and Mahesh Mangaonkar were also a part of the champion team from Incheon.
On the way to the final, India registered a hard-fought 2-0 victory over 2018 champions Malaysia in the semi-finals. They made the knockouts after finishing second behind Pakistan in Pool A. Only the top two teams from each pool progressed to the last four.
India finished with a bronze medal at the 2018 Jakarta Games in Indonesia.
The women’s team ended its Hangzhou squash campaign with a bronze medal after losing to Hong Kong China in the semi-finals on Friday.
Squash players will next be in action in the singles and mixed doubles events which start on Sunday.