HANGZHOU: First, there was a close defeat in the men’s squash team gold medal match. Then, there was a walloping in hockey.
Pakistan suffered at the hands of India at the Asian Games on Saturday, seeing their arch-rivals come from behind and condemning them to silver medal at the squash court before they were taught a hockey lesson in a 10-2 thrashing.
It was India’s biggest-ever win over Pakistan, capping off another disappointing day at the quadrennial spectacle for the country’s athletes.
Squash provided the only silver lining, the medal adding to the bronze won in shooting the other day by Kashmala Talat.
Pakistan went into their clash with India at the Gongshu Canal Sports Park Stadium on the back of three straight victories but were brought crashing down by their rampaging rivals for whom skipper Harmanpreet Singh scored four times.
India’s biggest victory margin prior to Saturday’s clash was a 7-1 win in 2017 and they toyed with Pakistan for large parts on their way to a record-breaking win.
India’s Mandeep Singh gave India the lead in the eighth minute after his team-mate Abhishek ran into the Pakistan circle before Harmanpreet converted a penalty stroke three minutes later.
Another powerful drag-flick from Harmanpreet in the 17th made it 3-0 before Sumit added another on the stroke of halftime.
Harmanpreet converted a penalty stroke in the 33rd as India continued to overrun Pakistan before the skipper made it 6-0 with a penalty corner conversion a minute later.
Mohammad Sufyan converted a drag flick to pull one back for Pakistan four minutes later but India soon restored their six-goal advantage through Varun Kumar in the 41st.
Pakistan got their second when Rana Abdul Waheed converted a penalty corner right on the end of the third quarter but India snuffed any hopes of a miraculous comeback with further goals by Samsher Singh (46th), Lalit Kumar Upadhyay (49th) and Varun (54th).
While India qualified for the semi-finals courtesy of their victory, Pakistan are left needing to beat Japan in their final pool clash to make the last four.
Hours earlier at the Hangzhou Olympic Centre Squash Court, Pakistan took the lead against India in the squash final when Nasir Iqbal overwhelmed Mahesh Mangaonkar 11-8, 11-2, 11-3 in the opening tie of the final to give his side the advantage.
But Saurav Ghosal levelled matters when he beat Mohammad Asim Khan 11-5, 11-1, 11-3 to set up a winner-takes-gold match between his team-mate Abhay Singh and Pakistan’s Noor Zaman.
Pakistan had beaten India in the pool stage by winning the decisive match but here, the tables were turned in a battle of attrition that Abhay won 11-7, 9-11, 8-11, 11-9, 12-10.
Noor was in tears at the end of the 64-minute duel, crushed after having led 9-7 in the fourth game and 10-8 in the deciding game, only for Abhay to come back and seal victory for India and deny Pakistan a first gold in the event since the 2010 Games in Guangzhou.
A day after securing Pakistan’s first medal at the Games, Kashmala fell narrowly short of winning another bronze alongside Gulfam Joseph in the 10m air pistol mixed teams event. The duo lost 14-16 to Iranian opponents in the bronze medal match.
On Friday, Kashmala had finished third in the women’s event behind India’s Palak and Esha Singh. “The medal has come after eight years of hard work,” she told reporters after getting a total score of 218.2 points.
Kashmala had also participated in the 25m air pistol event but failed to make the final eight. “I think I was better prepared for the 25m event but that’s sport for you,” she added.
Elsewhere at the athletics track, Pakistan’s Gohar Shahbaz clocked a season’s best of 10.49 seconds in his 100m semi-final but finished seventh and way off the qualifying mark for the final.
Mohammad Afzal leapt 6.73m in the long jump and was last in his heat. Similar was the case with Ghazala Ramzan, who finished last in her heat of the women’s 100m hurdles with a time of 15.43 seconds.
In the boxing ring, Mohammad Qasim lost his 51-57kg last-16 bout to China’s Ping Lyu on points — the Chinese winning with all five judges scoring in his favour across three rounds.
Published in Dawn, October 1st, 2023