India will face arch-rival and defending champion Pakistan in a pre-quarterfinal showdown in the WSF-World Junior Men’s Squash Team Championship on Thursday. A loss to Czech Republic early in the day threatened to end Pakistan's campaign, but the defending champion bagged an easy win against Zimbabwe to progress to last-16 and set up a blockbuster clash with India at the Express Avenue Mall in Chennai on Thursday.
India has never defeated Pakistan in the World Juniors. Pakistan first triumphed 3-0 in a group stage tie in 2006 and followed it up with a similar scoreline to oust India in the semifinal in 2008.
India versus Pakistan is always a high-stakes match, regardless of the sport they’re played in. A match of this stature (albeit in an unpopular sport), could gather large crowds, stacking the odds against Pakistan.
But Pakistan coach Mohammad Yasin believes there won’t be too much pressure on his boys. “It’s a new team. They’re young and they’re playing freely. There won’t be too much pressure on them. But it’s obviously a very interesting game for the spectators,” said the 1974 British Open runner-up.
The defending champion played two contrasting fixtures before qualifying for the pre-quarterfinals. Against Czech Republic, Pakistan got off on the right foot. Haris Qasim convincingly defeated Czech Republic’s Marek Panacek 11-5, 11-6, 11-6 to put the defending champion in the front.
Viktor Byrtus got one back for sixth seed Czech Republic after he resisted a comeback from Pakistan No. 1 Abbas Zeb in a tightly contested second match that ended 11-9, 11-5, 9-11, 4-11, 11-9. Muhammad Uzair fell to Ondrej Vorlicek 11-6, 11-4, 6-11, 11-4 as Pakistan conceded the tie 2-1.
Requiring a win against Zimbabwe to secure a spot in the pre-quarterfinals, Pakistan managed to stay calm under pressure and cruised to a 3-0 win without losing a single game. Only Ethan Porter came close to winning a game for Zimbabwe as he played out a close three games against Pakistan’s Muhammad Uzair.
Hong Kong trumps U.S.
Hong Kong defeated eighth seed USA 3-0. USA only made it to the round-of-16 thanks to Hong Kong’s defeat of Finland later in the day. Hong Kong faces Colombia in the next round.
Canada survived a scare from Argentina to win its second tie in group B and go through as group topper. The second seed will play Australia in the next round. Argentina clinched a thriller against Scotland 2-1 to set-up a pre-quarterfinal tie against No. 1 seed Egypt.