ISLAMABAD - Pakistan’s lone representative Nasir Iqbal was sent packing in the second semifinals of the 2nd Serena Hotels-Chief of Air Staff (CAS) $25,000 International Squash Championship 2015 here at Mushaf Mir Squash Complex on Monday.

Nasir was carrying the nation’s hopes as he was up against Mohamed Abouelghar and it was a battle between the two highly regarded players. Nasir was 1-5 down in the first game and was looking down and out, but when he was 3-8 down, he staged a comeback to reduce the gap to 6-8 and then 8-9, but at that stage, Abouelghar changed gears and took the first game 11-8 in 11 minutes. It was all Nasir in the second game taking healthy 5-0 lead and then it was 8-2. At that stage, Abouelghar just decided not to push and let Nasir take the game 11-2 in just 6 minutes. Third game was played on a very high tempo as the players fought for each and every point. It was 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 6-6, but then Abouelghar took 8-6 lead but Nasir made it 8-8. That was all Nasir could get from the game as he lost the game 8-11 in 13 minutes.

The real drama unfolded in the fourth game, when Nasir was in supreme control enjoying 10-4 lead. Abouelghar was hardly moving and it seemed the match would lock at 2-game all and Nasir would hold the advantage going into the last game, but all of a sudden, the entire crowd was stunned as Abouelghar staged one of the most unbelievable comebacks of all times, as he kept on reducing the gap and at one stage, he made it 10-10. Nasir was shocked, looking completely exhausted and was hardly being able to move. Squash legends Qamar Zaman, Jahanghir Khan and Jansher Khan were looking in disbelief as what they had witnessed was very hard to absolve. Nasir finally takes a point after six consecutive points by Abouelghar and it was 11-10.

Nasir was serving for the game, but Abouelghar was not in a mood to let Nasir off the hook after coming so close. It was 11-11, then 12-12, before Abouelghar made it 13-12 and then with a delightful touch, he killed off Nasir challenge by winning the fourth game 14-12 in 12 minutes, thus won the encounter 3-1 in 48 minutes. The final will be played between Mohamed Abouelghar and Omar Abdel Meguid at 4pm.

In the earlier semifinal played between Omar Abdel Meguid and Karim Al Fathi, defending champion Omar came from behind to beat his countryman 3-1 in 80 minutes of highly entertaining encounter. Omar was looking down and out, as he was outclassed by Karim in the major portion of first and second games. The tempers flared up as both players got conduct warnings from chair referee Jamshed Gul Khan. Karim was given punishment of one point on use of abusive language and throwing racket on the court. It was more like a battle than the squash match.

First two games were played in cordial environment, but after that things turned nasty. Omar was looking well behaved, while Karim was highly flared up and was trying to get physical with Omar. Karim took the first game 11-6 in 20 minutes. Omar was looking bit confused, as he was not expecting such tough response form Karim. Omar was leading 8-5, when Karim pulled his muscle, but he restarted match and made it 8-8 and then 10-8. Omar never lost his composure and battled his way back to made it 10-10, then it was 12-12, before Omar found his lost touch and took the second game 14-12 in 28 minutes to make it 1-1.

Karim was nowhere in the third game as Omar took the game 11-3. Things were not looking well for Karim, Omar was at the top of his game and looking all set to wind up things, but things all of a sudden took ugly turn as Karim threw his racket on the floor and used highly objectionable language against Omar, match referee Jamshed Gul issued conduct warning and stroke against Karim. Omar was leading 9-5, before Karim reduced the gap to 8-9, he just managed to win one more point as Omar sealed the fate of the game winning 11-9 in 13 minutes to complete hard-fought victory against Karim in 80 minutes.

Sadly, it turned out to be a day to forget for the local supporters, mainly based on Fazia School kids and a large size of journalists. The sponsors and PAF guests were mainly occupying the VVIP seats, while high profile diplomats families mainly from Egypt were not given proper seats by the PSF, as secretary Amir Nawaz and treasurer Sikandar Mayo were busy in self-praise. It was quite sad that at one end, the PSF’s guests were enjoying meal, juices and other incentives, while on the other hand, journalists and school-kids, who were directly brought from schools, were not even provided drinking water. Despite several requests being made by this scribe to Sikandar to have some mercy on kids and at least provide water to them, no heed was paid. It was hoped that the PSF president to look into this matter and take stern action against the officials who are brining bad name to the federation.