World No.16 and Asia No.1 Ghosal got past a gritty 20-year-old from Pakistan, Nasir Iqbal, 11-6 9-11 11-2 11-9 in a tight quarterfinal lasting 58 minutes at the Yeorumul Squash Courts. The Indian faces a familiar opponent in 2006 champion Ong Beng Hee of Malaysia tomorrow.

Pallikal then showed grit and gumption to beat her long-time teammate Chinappa 7-11 11-9 11-8 15-17 11-9 in a much hyped quarterfinal mainly for off-court reasons. The newly turned 23-year-old next confronts a mighty Nicol David, the World No.1 who has not lost a singles match since the sport was introduced in the 1998 Bangkok Games.

On a positive note, both Pallikal and Ghosal reaching semifinals and assuring themselves of at least a bronze puts India on track for its best ever show at the continental event.

India won three medals (all bronze) out of four categories at Guangzhou 2010 and this time they look good for medals in all four categories including the team events.

The 28-year-old Ghosal took control of the proceedings against Iqbal quite early and barring a minor slip in the second game, he was clinical in sealing the issue in his favour.

Ghosal took the third game in mere eight minutes and even though the 42-ranked Pakistani was leading 7-5 in the fourth, the Indian used his experience to come back and seal the match.

"I thought I played well in the first and third game. My length dropped a bit in the second and Nasir took good advantage of that. Overall he played really well but I did enough to come through," Ghosal told PTI.

Asked how it feels to be assured of three singles Asiad medals in a row, the Kolkata-based player said: "Not giving much thought to it actually. I am very focussed on the match tomorrow. It was good to get some more playing time on the glass court today. Beng Hee is a very different player to Nasir but I am confident of pulling it off.

The women's match turned out to be a pulsating contest as expected. In a roller-coaster battle, Chinappa clinched the opening game 11-7 in just nine minutes but Pallikal bounced back to draw level.

The higher-ranked Indian then wrapped up the third game to go 2-1 up. The fourth game, lasting 26 minutes, took a lot out of the two girls with Pallikal saving two game balls from 8-10. The game went as far as 15-15 before Chinappa found a way to take the match to the decider.

However, Pallikal did not give up and fought back brilliantly to outwit Chinappa 11-9 in the fifth and final game.

Both Chinappa and Pallikal had called the draw "unfortunate" and the former had even considered a pullout
claiming "manipulation".

India has so far won four medals (all bronze) at the Asian Games since 1998. Two of them have come courtesy Ghosal and the rest in men's and women's team event.

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