Iskandar out, Sourav only Indian left

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Kolkata, Feb 5 (UNI) Top seeded and defending champion Azlan Iskandar today crashed out in the opening round of the Kolkata International Squash here.

The Malaysian, ranked 16 in the world, lost 3-1 against unseeded Shahid Zaman of Pakistan, who is trying to make a comeback after an year in wilderness owing to injury. Second seeded Ong Beng Hee (Malaysia) had no problems beating unseeded Amir Mansi of Egypt.

The news was equally bad for the home players, with the greater part of the Indian challenge going out in the first round. The former national champion and the owner of most number of PSA titles from the country, Ritwick Bhattacharya, crashed out rather cheaply in straight games against third seeded Aamir Atlas Khan of Pakistan.

His lesser ranked compatriots Gaurav Nandrajog and Siddharth Suchde also made hopeless exits.

The Indian hopes were hung on the reigning National champion Saurav Ghosal, who beat qualifier Mohammad El Shorbagy of Egypt 3-1 in a well-contested encounter. Ghosal playing his first tournament made the most his fresh energy upturning the challenge of his Egyptian opponent. Ghosal was a little rusty initially and lost the first game making some unforced errors. He took up from the second game, which he won easily and showed lot of character snatching the third game from Shorbagy, who was on game point 10-9. The fourth game was a matter formality for Ghosal who moved into the quarterfinals and would be meeting third seeded Omar Mosaad of Egypt, who beat India's Nandrajog.

Ritwick Bhattacharya, who hoped to make the most of playing at home, struggled to reach his best against a much fitter opponent in Aamir Atlas Khan.

The results (prefix denote seeding):- Pre-quarterfinals: Shahid Zaman (Pak) bt 1-Mohd Azlan Iskandar (Mas) 11-3, 11-9, 3-11, 11-6; Mansoor Zaman (Pak) bt Jethro Binns (Wal) 11-10(2-0), 11-9, 10-11(3-5), 11-8; 3-Omar Mosad (Egy) bt Gaurav Nandrajog (Ind) 11-8, 11-7, 11-9; Saurav Ghoshal (Ind) bt Mohammad El Shorbagy (Egy) 10-11 (0-2), 11-6, 11-10 (2-0), 11-7; Omar Abdel Aziz (Egy) bt Rob Sutherland (Wal) 11-7, 11-7, 7-11, 11-5; 4-Aamir Atlas Khan (Pak) bt Ritwick Bhattacharya (Ind) 11-8, 11-7, 11-6; Farhan Mehboob (Pak) bt Siddharth Suchde (Ind) 11-4, 11-5, 11-6; 2-Ong Beng Hee (Mas) bt Amir Mansi (Egy) 11-7, 11-8, 11-2.

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