KUALA LUMPUR: Sanjay Singh Chal was staring at defeat – and so were Malaysia.
Luckily, the 22-year-old from Miri clawed his way from the brink of defeat to beat Hong Kong’s world No. 95 Wong Chi Him 11-8, 4-11, 1-11, 11-9, 11-7 in the third and deciding tie to hand Malaysia a 2-1 triumph in the team final of the World University Squash Championships at the National Squash Centre in Bukit Jalil on Sunday.
Top seeds Hong Kong had jumped into a 1-0 lead in the mixed team event when men’s individual gold medallist Yip Tsz Fung outclassed Ivan Yuen for the second time in a week, winning 11-6, 11-8, 11-9.
Malaysia then levelled the score at 1-1, thanks to former world No. 5 Low Wee Wern’s 11-5, 11-4, 11-5 demolition of world No. 50 Tong Tsz Wing in the women’s tie.
That set the stage for world No. 172 Sanjay’s heroics.
Despite being 2-1 down and trailing 6-8 in the fourth set, the 2015 SEA Games gold medallist sprung into life to force a deciding rubber.
Sanjay, playing his first match in the team event, rode the momentum to complete a dramatic comeback after 57 minutes.
It was an impressive win for the left-hander, who has been struggling with a knee injury for the past six months and only made the third round of the individual event.
“I didn’t play well in the individual event, so I really wanted a chance to play in the team final because I’ve never lost to Chi Him before,” said Sanjay.
“I almost messed it up by taking just five points from the second and third sets ... it was embarrassing.
“Coach (Ong) Beng Hee came to me after the third set and told me off ... I knew I needed to step it up.
“I’m just glad I finished strongly ... especially since I’ve had my injury problems. I’ve been struggling with my form for the past 12 months since the SEA Games.”
This is Malaysia’s first team success since the tournament’s inception in 1996. Their previous best were bronze medals in the 2008 and 2014 editions.
Team captain Wee Wern, who finished with a two-gold haul following her individual triumph, was full of praise for Sanjay’s never-say-die attitude.
“I’m proud of the team for pulling through ... especially since Ivan lost a tough opener to Tsz Fung,” said We Wern.
“It was the best chance for Sanjay to show everyone what he could do ... and he played really well when it mattered.”
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