ISLAMABAD

Top seed and world number 58 Farhan Zaman survived a close scare from Asian junior individual squash champion Israr Ahmed, before moving into the semifinals of the $15,000 Parco – Roshan Khan Open Squash Championship 2016 at newly-installed four-glass court at PAF Museum Karachi.

Farhan was not expecting such a highly-charged match, as he was not only top seed but vastly experienced as compare to young Israr, who although a highly-rated promising lad, yet has no such experience of playing against top PSA players. It was a highly interesting quarterfinal as pack-to-capacity crowd in the open area witnessed some of the finest squash on offer by both the players.

Farhan as usual started the first game on a slow pace. Israr kept Farhan on the run and was leading in the initial part of the game, before Farhan changed gears and took the game 11-8. Farhan started the second slowly but gradually mounted pressure on Israr and took it 11-7. Things were looking highly grim for Israr, who was almost down and out from the match, but when it mattered the most, Israr, against all the odds, staged a remarkable comeback in the third game. Farhan, who is well-known to relax down when he is in supreme control, allowed Israr too much liberty and freedom which he fully utilized and completely outclassed Farhan, winning the game 11-5.

The fourth game was played on a very high tempo, as Farhan was seemingly looking tired and frustrated, as he was not expecting Israr to pose such a serious challenge to him. A royal battle was witnessed as both the players fought for each and every point, Farhan twice had chances to wrap up the match, when he was leading 10-9 and then again 11-10, but he failed to took advantage and Israr cashed on to the mistakes and took the fourth game 13-11 to take the match into fifth and final game.

Surprisingly, majority of the crowd was backing Israr and bucking him up, chanting slogans in favour of him. As per expectations, the fifth and decisive game also started in a high tempo, as both the players exhibited top class squash. Farhan kept Israr on the run, but Israr matched fire-with-fire and had a golden opportunity to finish off Farhan, when he was leading 9-8, but he failed to take advantage, which allowed Farhan to bounce back and won next three points in a row to take the game 11-9, thus won the marathon encounter in 55 minutes to set semifinal date with Khawaja Adil Maqbool. The semi-finals will be played on late Wednesday night.

In other quarterfinals, second seed Tayyab Aslam thrashed 7th seed Zahir Shah in straight games, winning 3-0 in just 25 minutes. Tayyab won the first game 11-7, second 11-3 and third 11-9 to set semifinal clash with US-based Shahjahan Khan. In the third quarterfinal, third seed Shahjahan Khan wasted only 20 minutes to brush aside M Farhan 3-0.

In the fourth and last quarterfinal, UAE-based fourth seed Khawaja Adil Maqbool recorded 3-2 victory against Pakistan’s promising youngster Asim Khan. Adil won the first game 11-4 and second 14-12, before Asim staging a remarkable comeback to win next two games 11-8 and 12-10 to take the match into fifth and decisive game, where Asim simply ran out of steam and lost it 6-11.