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Asian Games: India: Turnarounds by squash team, mixed doubles pair give golden hue to historic day in badminton, TT

The men’s squash team scripted a memorable comeback victory against a strong Pakistan side to win the gold medal while in tennis, the mixed doubles pair of Rohan Bopanna and Rutuja Bhonsale too scripted a dramatic turnaround to bag gold medal as India claimed two gold, two silver and one bronze medals to maintain its fourth position in the medals tally with 38 medals in the Hangzhou Asian Games on Saturday.

The men’s squash team looked down and out with Saurav Ghosal pulling them level after Mahesh Mangaonkar had lost the first match. Ghosal’s 3-0 victory against Muhammad Asim Khan put the onus on youngster Abhay Singh who was starting at defeat at 8-10 in the deciding game of the third match in the best of three contest. But the 25-year-old from Uttar Pradesh scripted a sensational, dramatic turnaround by winning the last four points to beat Pakistan’s Noor Zaman and sealed a memorable victory and gold medal for India.

The mixed doubles pair of Bopanna and Rutuja Bhosale were also staring down the barrel after losing the first set 6-2. Bopanna had a brainwave and swapped the side of the court he was playing with his partner and they scripted a grand turnaround and won the match in the Match tie-breaker.

Bopanna and Bhosale won the second set 6-3 and triumphed 10-4 in the match tiebreaker to win the gold medal, allowing Bopanna end his career in Asian Games on a winning note.

“Nothing was going right for us. I was not making shots that I usually make easily. So, after we lost the first set, Rohan suggested that we switch sides. We did that and things changed after that,” said Bhosale after the match.

Bopanna said he wanted to make their opponents think differently and thus switched sides with his partner and start receiving first. “We were constantly getting under pressure. So, I thought why not make them think something different, to set getting them play at love-15 (o-15),” said Bopanna. And it worked as they won the match and claimed gold medal.

The two gold medals took India’s tally to 38 medals including 10 gold, 14 silver and 14 bronze medals and was placed fourth in the standings following behind China (218), Japan (105), Korea (119).

India bagged a silver medal in the men’s 10m air pistol mixed team event in which Sarabjot Singh and Divya TS finished second behind China.

The second silver came in the men’s 10,000 metres as Karthik Kumar finished second while compatriot Gulveen Singh bagged the bronze medal, making it a 2-3 finish for India in the event. The two medals were totally unexpected as the coaches and administrators had not considered them as contenders. But both Karthik and Gulveer produced their personal best efforts to finish second and third behind a Bahraini runner.

In terms of results, it was a historic day for India as the men’s team secured a maiden entry into the final of the badminton team event. With Singles players HS Prannoy, Lakshya Sen and Kidambi Srikanth off-setting the defeats by the doubles pairs of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty along with MR Arjun and Dhruv Kapila, India defeated a strong Republic of Korea team 3-2 in the semifinal and set up a summit clash with China, who defeated Japan easily in the other semifinal.

In table tennis, the women’s doubles pair of Anhika Mukherjee and Suthirtha Mukherjee too made history when they defeated the reigning World Champions in the quarterfinals and stormed into the semifinals, assuring themselves a medal.

 The Indain girls defeated the reigning World Champions from China, Chen Weng, and Yidi Weng 3-1 — 11-5, 11-5, 5-11, 11-9 triumph.

The boxers also continued to shine as Olympic bronze medallist Lovlina Borghaoin, Narender and Parveen stormed into the semifinals, assuring themselves of medals in their respective weight classes.

In athletics, Murali Sreeshankar and Jaswin Aldrin qualified for the men’s long jump final while top Indian steeplechaser Avinash Sable will hope to win a medal in his pet event on Sunday.

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