Barker puts paid to Ghosal's hopes

Peter Barker of England snuffed out the aspirations of seven-time National champion Saurav Ghosal with a clinical performance, racing to an 11-4, 11-8, 6-11, 11-5 victory in the pre-quarterfinals of the $165,000 Punj Lloyd PSA Masters squash tournament here on Thursday.

Glimpses of brilliance

For the faithful home supporters who had stayed back for the last match of the day that started close to 9 p.m., there was something to cheer as the 28-year-old Ghosal came up with glimpses of the exquisite game that had taken him to a career-best ranking of 22.

But, once the Englishman got going with his explosive game, Ghosal needed to sprint a lot and the crafty left-hander's court craft, pushed the Indian to his wits' end.

Though he tried to get into his groove with some competent fare in the second game, Ghosal lost the first two games in just about 20 minutes. There was some hope when he rode on a good start and a 6-3 lead in the third, to clinch a game, winning five points in a row, strengthening the shouts of “common Saurav”.

The enthusiasm was short-lived as the Englishman regrouped for a strong finish, setting the tempo with a 5-0 lead start for the fourth game.

Of course, there was a lot to cheer for the English camp as James Willstrop and Daryl Selby also made the quarterfinals.

He is the toughest player to beat on the Tour at the moment, and James Willstrop showed why, as he overcame a tough start to outclass Alister Walker of Botswana 12-10, 11-4, 11-5. Willstrop saved a game point in a tricky first game when he was matched shot for shot, to cruise home in 38 minutes.

The World No. 2 will face Daryl Selby, the British champion. The 19-year-old Selby with an admirable all-round game carried too many tricks up his sleeve to be troubled for long by his opponent. After a tussle that lasted nearly an hour, Selby made a strong finish, winning seven points on the trot.

Top-seeded Ramy Ashour of Egypt was all class as he tried to make sure that he did not keep the spectators waiting for long for Ghosal's match. However, despite saving six game points from 6-10 in the extended second game, Ashour could not stop Cameron Pilley of Australia from clinching it with a smart winner.

Officially recorded as the fastest hitter in the world with a speed of 175mph, the 29-year-old Pilley soon realised that he had little speed or energy for the rest of the match, when he collected six points in all.

The results (pre-quarterfinals): Daryl Selby (Eng) bt Simon Rosner (Ger) 11-7, 11-6, 8-11, 11-5; James Willstrop (Eng) bt Alister Walker (Bot) 12-10, 11-4, 11-5; Ramy Ashour (Egy) bt Cameron Pilley (Aus) 11-5, 12-14, 11-2, 11-4; Peter Barker (Eng) bt Saurav Ghosal 11-5, 11-8, 6-11, 11-5.

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