ISLAMABAD - Pakistan’s last hope in the $150,000 Tournament of Champions ended with Nasir Iqbal’s 3-1 defeat in 68 minutes against world number 18 Australian Ryan Cuskelly in the main round played in New York on Saturday.
Nasir started the first game on a low, which allowed Ryan lot of freedom and space, which he utilised well and took the game 11-6. After losing the first game, Nasir settled down in the second game and gave tough time to Ryan. Although he committed costly errors in the dying moments of the game, which allowed Ryan to close the gap, but eventually he won the game 11-9. Soon after the second game, Ryan started playing very aggressive squash which shifted momentum in his favour and he not only took cruise control but also won the third game 11-7.
Nasir started the fourth game positively and was playing superb squash. When the score was 2-2, Nasir suddenly started committing same silly mistakes and was not playing what was being expected from him. He had pulled his muscle and was hardly able to move freely, therefore, he preferred to play standing at same place, which almost gifted Ryan the game and match, as he took the game 11-7 to move into the second round.
Talking to The Nation, Nasir said: “It was great experience of playing in the main round. Although I lost, yet I had learnt a lot of lessons, which will definitely help me in the days to come. I met with Egyptian maestro Amar Shabana, who appreciated me a lot and told me, if I wanted to win big events, I have to move abroad and based for a longer period of time. He told me if I work hard and keep on playing international events, I can help Pakistan regain lost squash glory.”
He said it was after 1999, two Pakistani players played in the main round of such a high-profile event. “I would like to thank living legend Jahangir Khan, who played and trained with me and Farhan for a week, which really helped us in taking giant strides. I would like to say a big thanks to the Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF) and my coach and elder brother Tahir Iqbal, whose presence means a lot to me, and he really helped me a lot.”
“If the PSF helps me prolong my stay in the USA, it will help in great deal as I could focus on my training and win laurels for the country and bring back old glory days of Pakistan squash in short span of time,” Nasir concluded.