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Harinder stuns sixth seed

India’s Harinder Pal Sandhu stunned sixth seeded Abdulla Al-Tamimi 4-11, 11-6, 8-11, 11-6, 11-6 to storm into the quarter-final of the 19th Asian Squash Championship at the Express Avenue mall here on Thursday. Seeded 15th in the championship, Harinder crawled from a 1-2 deficit to win 3-2 in a match that lasted more than an hour.

Harinder stuns sixth seed
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India's Harinder Pal Sandhu (L) in action against Qatar's Abdulla Al-Tamimi in Asian Championship

Chennai

Harinder and Abdulla had met each other twice before this match and both the players tasted success against each other once. The win, according to Harinder, was his best in oneand-a-half years. 

Abdulla started on a crafty note and was strong on the attack and killed points with ease as Harinder made many errors in taking the ball. The 28-year-old lost the first game after playing a lot of loose balls and crawled back to win the second but couldn’t hold on to the third.

Facing a do-or-die situation, Harinder came back with a strong reply. He repeatedly started to attack on the backhand and focused on the left corner as the Qatar player couldn’t find answers to Harinder’s new found strategy and crumbled in the next two games to hand the match to the Indian.

Harinder started to play the ball deep, a trick he had missed in the first three games. He covered the court well and was agile to take the ball early. He closed the point with delicate drops and powerful cross-court smashes as the crowd came alive with every winning point.

“I needed a lot of mental courage to get back into the match. Abdulla was shooting well and I had to move well. He was off in a flash and I had to cover the court well to take his shots,” a delighted Harinder said after the gruelling match. 

According to Harinder the key was Achraf El Karagui’s advice. The Indian looked dejected after the third game and the Indian coach gave him a pep talk. Harinder stormed into the court to outplay his opponent. “Achraf told me to hit the ball and not settle for anything less. He wanted Abdulla to work for his winners. He noted that I was soft on the ball and wanted me to change. I implemented these suggestions and it worked wonders,” Harinder added.

Court damage stalls play at mall

A damage to the flooring at the Express Avenue mall stalled the last three matches of the day here on Thursday. The wooden flooring at the back end of the court was uneven, creating a small gap between two wooden planks during the match between India’s Joshna Chinappa and Philippines’ Jemyca Aribado. 

The remaining matches were moved to Indian Squash Academy. Joshna Chinappa complained to the match officials in the second game and the match was halted for about 15 minutes due to the incident. Later, Joshna came on to the court and beat Aribado 11-7, 11-9, 11-7 to move into the last-8. 

Earlier, Vikram Malhotra too reached the quarter-final with an easy 114, 11-1, 11-9 victory over Malaysia’s Muhammad Addeen Idrakie. Velavan lost 1-11, 1-11, 8-11 to Malaysia’s Yuen Chee Wern.

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