Dipika Pallikal and Harinder Sandhu win historic squash mixed doubles gold - Hindustan Times
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Dipika Pallikal and Harinder Sandhu win historic squash mixed doubles gold

Oct 05, 2023 01:22 PM IST

Dipika Pallikal and Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu beat Malaysia in straight games win gold in squash mixed doubles team event.

India's Dipika Pallikal and Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu created history by becoming the first pair to win the gold medal in the squash mixed doubles event at the Asian Games 2023 in Hangzhou. This was the first mixed doubles event in squash at the Games. This was India's second team gold in squash at the 19th Games after the top finish of the men's team. The Indian pair beat Malaysia's Aifa Binti Azman and Mohammad Kamal of Malaysia in a roller-coaster final.

India's Dipika Pallikal Karthik, left, and Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu celebrate after their win against Malaysia's Mohammad Syafiq Bin Mohd Kamal and Aifa Binti Azman in the mixed doubles squash final(AP)
India's Dipika Pallikal Karthik, left, and Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu celebrate after their win against Malaysia's Mohammad Syafiq Bin Mohd Kamal and Aifa Binti Azman in the mixed doubles squash final(AP)

In the end, India won it in straight games but it wasn't easy for even once, as both the games were decided after it was 10-10. India won the game point on both occasions in the best-of-three encounter.

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India were comfortably placed with a 9-3 lead in the second game, two points away from claiming gold. That is where the match turned on its head. Aifa and Kamal played some outstanding squash, carefully using a combination of drop shots and side-wall variations to win as many as 7 points in a row to make it 10-9 in their favour.

The frustration in the Indian pair was evident as errors started to creep in. With Malaysia only one point away from making it 1-1, there were six let calls in a row. A let is given when a swing is prevented or obstructed unintentionally by the opponent and the point is replayed.

India finally broke the deadlock with a crucial point to make it 10-10. Now both teams were a point away from winning this game as in squash, there is no need to keep a double-point difference from the opponent in case of a tied score.

In a battle of nerves, it was Dipika and Harinder who prevailed to take the last point and the gold medal with an 11-10, 11-10 victory.

The first game was much closer right from the beginning. The scores were level as many as six times during the opening game. Malaysia, with a 10-8 lead, had two game points but India won three in a row to close out the game.

In likely her last hurrah at the continental showpiece, Dipika won two medals -- a bronze in the women's team event besides the mixed doubles gold. The 32-year-old thus has a haul of six medals, including one gold and one silver and four bronze medals across four editions of the Asian Games.

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