India disappoints in Asian squash championship

India faced disappointment in the ongoing Asian team squash championship in Chinese Taipei on Thursday with the women going down to Malaysia in a nail-biting thriller and the men slumping to lower-seeded Japan before regaining some relief with a win over lowly Macao.

Dipika Karthik beat Rachel Arnold 2-11, 11-3, 11-4, 11-3 but couldn't stop India from losing to Malaysia 2-1.   -  PTI

India faced disappointment in the ongoing Asian team squash championship in Chinese Taipei on Thursday with the women going down to Malaysia in a nail-biting thriller and the men slumping to lower-seeded Japan before regaining some relief with a win over lowly Macao.

Expectedly the focus was more on the leading stars Joshna Chinappa and Dipika Karthik in the women’s group. Even though Malaysia was without Nicol David, the team had the depth and this was proved. First Akanksha Salunkhe buckled under pressure despite being on game-ball situation in the first game against Sivasangari.

Once the Malaysian escaped she had Akanksha under her control. Dipika next was in for an initial scare at the hands of Rachel Arnold, the younger sister of Delia. Playing explosive shots, she grabbed the first game but the experienced Dipika changed tact to her advantage. The Indian comfortably took the next three games to restore parity in match scores. Joshna’s encounter with Delai proved a close decider, with both trading points. But winning the crucial end points in the five-game thriller, the Malaysian showed the iron resolve to take her country through. India faces Sri Lanka next and if it wins, will place second in the pool and will most likely face top seed and favourite Hong Kong in the semifinal.

For the men, disaster struck in the very first match when a free moving Kush Kumar developed an ankle strain. Though he tried to catch up, his Japanese opponent Kobayashi was quick to realise to exploit the dodgy ankle and won with ease. Much depended on Harinder Pal Sandhu to shore up India’s cause but, as National Coach Cyrus Poncha said, “his performance came as a disappointment.” Though India’s number one player grabbed a game he did not inspire confidence and crashed out. Youngster Velavan Senthilkumar played to potential to win his match even though it was a lost case by then. Later in the day, India got past Macao to draw some relief.

The results (all league matches):

Men: India lost to Japan 2-1 (Kush Kumar lost to Ryosei Kobayashi 6-11, 11-13,9-11; Harinder Pal Sandhu lost to Ryunosuke Tsukue 11-5, 8-11, 10-12, 7-11; Velavan Senthilkumar bt Taiki Kaido 9-11, 11-4, 11-6, 11-6.); India bt Macao 3-0 (Harinder Pal Sandhu bt Steven Liu Tsun Man 11-7, 11-4, 11-6; Kush Kumar bt Van Keng Hei 11-3, 11-1, 11-2; Vijaykumar Meena bt Manuel Chan Gassmann de Oliveira 11-6, 11-4, 11-4)

Women: India lost to Malaysia 2-1 (Akanksha salunkhe lost to Sivasangari Subramaniam11-13, 4-11, 8-11; Dipika Karthik bt Rachel Arnold 2-11, 11-3, 11-4, 11-3; Joshna Chinappa lost to Delia Arnold 11-7, 7-11, 9-11, 11-5, 9-11)

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