New Delhi: The Indian team went down fighting to top seed and defending champions Egypt in the semi-finals of the World Junior squash team championship in the Qatar capital, Doha on Tuesday.
Bidding for a 10th final in 11 editions of the championship, Egypt were off to a good start as double individual champion Marwan El Shorbagy beat Indian number one Mahesh Mangonkar 9-11 12-10 11-5 6-11 11-5 in 72 minutes.
Mangonkar took the first game, and almost the second too, and it wasn`t until the latter part of the fifth game that Shorbagy started to look completely at ease as he completed a hard-fought victory.
In the second match, Egypt were able to field Mohamed Abouelghar, the world`s number two junior, who contested the last two world junior finals with Shorbagy.
Again, though it was the Indian camp who were happier at the start as Abhishek Pradhan took the first game, before the Egyptian came back strongly to clinch the next three for a 10-12 11-6 11-8 11-5 win in 33 minutes.
In the third game, Mazen Hesham defeated Vrishab Koitan 11-9 11-4 in 21 minutes to complete a 3-0 rout.
"Our players went out there and showed we are nearly there. Mahesh was outstanding, and played to the game plan, unfortunately, in the fifth, he couldn`t keep the consistency. But he did play very well, and we are very proud of him," said Indian coach Cyrus Poncha.
"Same for Abhishek, he gave Abouelgar a good run, and played some outstanding winners, very proud of him too," he added.
India will play against the loser of second semifinal between England and Pakistan for the bronze medal.