No brotherly love for Egyptian squash star Mohamed Elshorbagy
No brotherly love for Egyptian squash star Mohamed Elshorbagy
Mohamed had twice lost world finals by the narrowest of margins to fellow Egyptian Ramy Ashour, but he was not prepared for an even harder opponent — the younger sibling with whom he has been competing since they were both old enough to walk.
"I was in shock when Marwan won his match (on Saturday),” Mohamed admitted.
"I was lying in bed for hours thinking I have to beat my brother to win the world title. It was not a nice feeling at all."
It was a contest of sensational hitting, breath-taking movement, and obvious emotion between two men who could often guess what the other might do.
Mohamed, twice a British Open winner, led by a game and 9-7 but was pegged back, while Marwan went 6-4 up in the decider but could get no closer to the finish line.
It ended in a flurry of lets and penalty points as both men tired, with Marwan starting to miss with his short game in the last few points.
It may have been Marwan's later schedule the previous night and subsequent shorter recovery time which eventually made a difference.
The end came with a ferocious cross court forehand winner from Mohamed, after which Marwan responded by applauding Mohamed for his achievement.
Mohamed tried to soften the blow by lifting Marwan's arm as the crowd clapped, and there followed a very long hug between the brothers.
“I waited a long time for this moment and it was such a hard feeling," said Mohamed.
"It is something we must share for the rest of our lives, although maybe both of us will not enjoy it.”
“At the end we congratulated each other. It was my time today, with this title you have to be patient and it will come for him. I’ve won everything in the sport now, but I still have much more to achieve and more titles to win.”
Earlier, Raneem El-Welily ended a three-year wait for atonement having lost the 2014 final when she won the women's world title by upsetting her Egyptian compatriot Nour El-Sherbini 3-11, 12-10, 11-7, 11-5.
“She was under more pressure than me today,” said El-Welily.
“I felt so different today compared to the last World Championship final. That one was a nightmare, today I was so much more relaxed.
“So much has changed since 2014. The game has changed, I have changed, the sport is different from then. We're all adapting and improving. I hope I can keep the same attitude for the remainder of the season. From this moment to the next event I don't know what will happen, but I know I don't want to stop with just this one success.”
India and Pakistan ready to renew rivalry in Dubai showdown
- India brace for Pakistan after surviving stern test against minnows Hong Kong
- Usman Shinwari: Any player who performs well in an India-Pakistan match will find his career reaches a new high
DUBAI: As delirium sweeps the UAE ahead of the mouth-watering encounter between arch rivals India and Pakistan in the Asia Cup, it seems one man — at least outwardly — is not as excited as the rest of the country and cricketing fans the world over.
India captain Rohit Sharma played with a straight bat when asked about the biggest clash in world cricket, set to take place today at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. On his first Asia Cup media outing the 31-year-old seemed unconcerned by the impending showdown with their fiercest opponents, his focus instead on facing Hong Kong, who Sharma and Co. had a big scare against on Tuesday.
“Right now, we are not focusing on Pakistan as (first) we are playing Hong Kong,” Sharma said on Sunday. “Obviously we have to focus on that particular team but once we have finished that game we will focus on Pakistan and what their strengths and weaknesses are.”
These are clearly the words of a man so media trained that by now he could easily be on the other side of the desk, asking the same questions he and his colleagues sometimes enjoy batting back with crafted clichés that speak of focusing on “one game at a time” or the like.
Sharma was clearly right to not take his eyes off the ball with Hong Kong — they are not here to merely make up the numbers, as their brilliant, battling performance on Tuesday illustrated. But at the same time, Sharma will be all too aware that as India skipper the one match you do not want to lead your side to defeat in is the one against Pakistan, regardless of competition and location.
Clearly India are not leaving Pakistan preparations to the 14 hours or so (sleep included) between the close of the Hong Kong clash and the toss prior to resuming Indo-Pak cricketing rivalry. To suggest they are would be naive at best.
A year on from Pakistan’s show-stealing Champions Trophy final victory over the old enemy in June last year, and a whole five years since the two sides met outside of an ICC or ACC event due to strained political relations, the appetite for the first of potentially three matches at this year’s Asia Cup is huge and one borne out of starved hunger.
Pakistan’s Usman Shinwari, fresh off defeating Hong Kong on Sunday, was more candid than Sharma.
“Any player who performs well in an India-Pakistan match will find his career reaches a new high, and every player dreams of doing well in this contest,” the fast bowler said. “I took three wickets (against Hong Kong), I hope that can be five wickets against India.”
Shinwari’s sentiments were echoed by his captain, Sarfraz Ahmed, who is absolutely clear on the levels of expectation that this fixture demands from fans on both sides of the border.
“The passion is always there,” said Sarfraz. “When you play against India everyone wants us to win as it’s against India.
“The fans say that whatever happens you have to win but as a captain I have to win against every team. It would be the same for India whose fans want them to win. It has happened in the past that any player who performs in the Indo-Pak match becomes a national hero.”
UAE cricket fans cannot wait for the clash. It took just a few hours for the first batch of tickets to be snapped up, the second bought in equally ravenous fashion. It has left a huge number of tickets now being touted across online marketplaces, social media platforms and, ultimately, will likely see the inflated resales being pawned outside the stadium on matchday too.
An expected 25,000 fans will swell the Ring of Fire, set to deal not only with cricket’s most fierce rivalry but also with all the unpredictability that will be thrown their way.
The famed traffic jams around Hessa Street, leading up to the stadium, and local entrances of Dubai Sports City will heave and efforts have been made to ease the burden of vehicles that will cart both sets of fans in and out of the area. Gates will open from 12p.m. local time, a whole three and a half hours before the first ball has been bowled. In an emirate where the last-minute rush is a daily fact of life, this will be not be an easy thing to execute but that, alongside the immense presence of volunteers and security, should prove welcome additions to the day’s running order.
This, though, is India vs Pakistan. Anything could happen.