Maria's dream for squash gold ends at SAF Games

The Pak Banker - - MARKETS/SPORTS -

In­dia's top player Joshna Chi­nappa clinched the gold in women's in­di­vid­ual squash com­pe­ti­tion of the 12th South Asian Games af­ter beat­ing Pak­istan's Maria Toor­paki Wazir in a tense and ill-tem­pered sum­mit clash on late Mon­day.

Top seed Chi­nappa, ranked 14th in the world, re­cov­ered from one set down to beat se­cond seeded Maria 10-12, 11-7, 11-9, 11-7 at the brand new squash fa­cil­ity at the R.G. Baruah Sports Com­plex here. Maria, ranked 50th in the world, won the first set 12-10 af­ter a neck-and­neck con­test but she got in­jured mid­way in the se­cond set at 7-7 as blood came out of her left eye­brow re­gion af­ter con­tact with Chi­nappa and play was stopped for a while to get her treated.

The Pak­istani was im­me­di­ately given first aid and she re­sumed play af­ter a few min­utes. It looked like the break gave Chi­nappa time to ponder on her game and the glam­orous In­dian started dom­i­nat­ing the match from there on.

Maria looked ten­ta­tive just af­ter com­ing from her in­jury break and Chi­nappa did not take much time to take the se­cond set 11-7 and level scores at 1-1. The third set saw Chi­nappa tak­ing a 5-2 lead but Wazir came back with some su­perb shots to make it 6-6 and then 8-6. By then there was ten­sion among the crowd at the stands, but a calm Chi­nappa just went about her job and brought the score to 9-9 and then 10-9 be­fore tak­ing the set. In the fourth and fi­nal set, Maria gave some fight ini­tially but later frit­tered away as Chi­nappa won it 11-7 to give In­dia the first gold in squash in this edi­tion.

Mean­while, In­dia clinched a ma­jor­ity of other gold medals to en­sure a third suc­ces­sive day of supremacy for the host coun­try.

While com­pound archers scooped all five gold medals on of­fer, wrestlers also an­ni­hi­lated com­pe­ti­tion to grab five yel­low me­tals out of six. In­dia con­tin­ued to top the medals' tally with a count of 72, which in­cludes 48 gold, 18 sil­ver and six bronze medals. Sri Lanka held on to the se­cond spot with 59 medals (11 gold, 25 sil­ver and 23 bronze). Pak­istan are a dis­tant third in the tally with 29 medals (4 gold, 11 sil­ver and 14 bronze) in their kitty. The golden run be­gan early for In­dia in Shil­long with com­pound archers grab­bing all the five gold medals on of­fer along with two sil­ver medals to rule the roost. The In­dian archers topped the medals chart ahead of Bangladesh, who fin­ished with two sil­ver and two bronze medals and Bhutan (0-1-1). The In­dian grap­plers sim­ply an­ni­hi­lated their op­po­nents, scoop­ing 14 gold medals out of a to­tal 16 on of­fer as the wrestling com­pe­ti­tion that ended on Mon­day.

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