Qualifier Ali Farag in final of CCI Squash
Qualifier Ali Farag of Egypt and Asian Senior champion Nasir Iqbal of Pakistan fashioned exciting semi-final wins to set up a championship round clash, in the 2nd CCI PSA International Squash Championship, at the Cricket Club of India on Saturday.
Ali Farag of Egypt in action during his semi-final match against Zahed Mohamed.
Farag, who beat top seed Saurav Ghosal of India in the opening round and eighth seed Kristian Frost Olesen of Denmark in the quarter-finals, turned giant-killer when he upset compatriot and World No 55 Zahed Mohamed 11-7, 15-13, 10-12, 11-6 in another riveting 56-minute battle.
Third seed Iqbal of Peshawar endured a determined challenge from World No 75 Mahesh Mangaonkar before registering a 11-8, 11-8, 11-13, 12-10 win in an absorbing contest that lasted for 63 minutes.
Though Mangaonkar lost the first two sets, he sounded an early warning after surrendering narrowly to the 20-year-old Pakistan No 1. The Indian ignored his opponent’s reputation and staged a brilliant recovery in a neck-to-neck third set in which Iqbal enjoyed two match points at 10-9 and 11-10.
After forcing the match into the crucial fourth set, Mangaonkar frittered away envious 7-3 and 8-4 leads as Iqbal crept his way back into the game to lead 9-8 with five points in a row and snatched the match with a boast, in a gripping finish.
“It was a very tough match,” admitted Iqbal. “Mahesh is in form, especially after beating (second seed) Ong Beng Hee in the quarter-finals. “I controlled the first two sets though I was loose in the third which gave him a chance to recover. I think in the end he tired out and that gave me a chance to come back and win it.”