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Pakistan pin hopes on Nasir after trio crash

Pakistan pin hopes on Nasir after trio crash

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan chances of winning the Serena Hotel-Chief of Air Staff International Squash Championship became slimmer on Sunday with Nasir Iqbal among three visiting Egyptians succeeding in making the semi-finals here at the Mushaf Squash Complex.

Pakistan’s Tayyab Aslam and Farhan Mehboob failed to match Nasir’s feat when they crashed out to Egyptians Karim Al-Fathi and Omar Abdel Meguid.

Mohamed Aboulghar made it three Egyptians in the last four when he overcame compatriot Shehab Essam in a thriller.

Nasir who overwhelmed fellow countryman Israr Ahmed later attributed his compatriots’ failure to lack of resources apart from ambivalence on part of sponsors.

“Egyptian players enjoy a lot of facilities unlike us, for they get better chances to participate in international events due to sponsorship which we rarely get,” reckoned the 21-year-old while talking to Dawn after the match.

Nasir outclassed wildcard entrant Israr in the four-game match with the former wining the first two games 11-9 and 11-5 convincingly while his rival surprised him in the third game when he staged a comeback, winning the game 11-8. However, the fourth game saw Nasir overwhelm the world No 301 11-5 and thus won the quarter-final in only 45 minutes.

“The semi-final against Aboulghar is crucial for us, since I am alone in representing Pakistan in the semi-final line-up. I will try my level best to make it to the final,” the Bannu-born Nasir said.

Defending champion Meguid had to face an aggressive Farhan who outclassed the Egyptian in first game 11-9 in the first quarter-final. However, the visiting Egyptian playing powerful strokes made a stunning comeback in the second game completely overpowering Farhan to win the game with a huge margin of 11-1.

Although the third game lasting 62 minutes saw Farhan give tough time to the reigning champion, the hard fought contest was ultimately won by Meguid 14-12 with the visiting Egyptian succeeding to book his place in the semi-final after overwhelming his rival 11-7 in the fourth game

On the other hand, Al-Fathi overpowered Tayyab 11-9, 11-9, 11-6 in straight games with the visiting player taking only 35 minutes to defeat his opponent.

The last quarter-final between the two Egyptians—world No. 36 Abouelghar and world No. 95 Essam—proved to be a nerve-shredding 71-minute five-game clash.

While Abouelghar won the first set 11-7, his compatriot responded strongly in the second game to overwhelm the former 11-4.

It was Abouelghar’s turn to show his class in third game with the stylish player winning the game 11-7 while the fourth game saw Essam make a fine comeback through powerful strokes to claim the game 11-8.

However, Essam failed to respond successfully to powerful and aggressive strokes of Abouelghar who at long last won the game 11-7 and with it the quarter-final.

Abouelghar will face Nasir in the semifinals on Monday while Meguid will play against his fellow citizen Al-Fathi.

Published in Dawn, October 5th , 2015

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