BIRMINGHAM: Pakistan’s wrestling team had two golds within its reach at the Commonwealth Games on Friday. In the end, they only had two silver medals to show for their efforts.
After the country’s leading hope Mohammad Inam faltered in the much-hyped Indo-Pak clash for the +86kg title, Zaman Anwar was pinned in the +125kg final at the Coventry Arena.
Their silver medals added to the bronze won in the ring by compatriot Inayatullah earlier in the +65kg competition, increasing Pakistan’s medal tally to five so far at the Games.
There might be another medal for Pakistan on Saturday if Shajar Abbas makes it to the podium in the men’s 200m final. The 22-year-old sprinter booked his spot in the final after a third-place finish in his semi-final at the Alexander Stadium on Friday.
Weightlifter Nooh Dastagir Butt has delivered the only gold for Pakistan and there were high hopes that Inam would add another winners’ medal.
But the 33-year-old, who was imperious at the previous edition of the Games in Australia, could not repeat that feat when he lost 3-0 to Indian rival Deepak Punia in the final.
Inam looked far from his best throughout the duel against Punia, 10 years his junior, as he was booked for passivity early before the Indian successfully pushed his opponent out of the ring to take a 2-0 lead.
Both wrestlers were largely defensive in the bout but Inam did make a last effort to make a comeback despite clearly gasping for breath, only for Punia to easily thwart the same and get on top of him.
Inam had won his opening quarter-final bout against Australian Jayden Lawrence on points (8-3) before recording a come-from-behind 5-3 semi-final win over Edward Lessing of South Africa.
Zaman was easily outdone by Canada’s Amarveer Dhesi in their final. Dhesi raced into a 7-0 lead and after Zaman had clawed back two points, the Canadian pinned him down to win the gold.
It was an anticlimax for Zaman, who had pinned both his opponents en route to the final — first winning against Kensley Anthony Marie in the quarters before overwhelming home hope Mandhir Kooner in their last-four clash.
Inayat was the only Pakistani wrestler who failed to make the final.
Inayat won by technical superiority against Malta’s Adam Vella in the round-of-16 and then won on points against Nigerian Amas Daniel but went pointless during his semi-final loss against Lachlan McNeil of Canada.
He, however, rebounded in the bronze medal match and triumphed by technical superiority against Scotland’s Ross Connelly.
On the track, Shajar did not disappoint. With the top two in each of the three semi-finals advancing alongside the two who posted the best times, the 22-year-old made it through in the latter category after clocking 20.89 seconds.
Earlier at the National Exhibition Center Hall, Pakistan’s table tennis hope Fahad Khawaja made a storming start to his round-of-32 singles tie against sixth-seeded Paul Drinkhall of England.
Fahad won four of the first five points of the match but never gave an answer when Drinkhall found his range, losing 6-11, 5-11, 3-11, 4-11.
At the University of Birmingham Squash centre, Pakistan’s campaign came to an end with Nasir Iqbal and Tayyab Aslam losing their doubles round-of-16 tie against Scottish second seeds Greg Lobban and Rory Stewart.
Having lost the first game 4-11, Nasir and Tayyab leveled the match when they won the second 11-10 but the Lobban and Stewart secured progress when they won the deciding game 11-3.
Published in Dawn, August 6th, 2022