The Indian men and women teams bounced back to reach the semifinals of the Asian Squash Championship in Taipei on Friday.
The loss to Japan yesterday had the men dropping their heads but their chins were up after a stupendous 2-0 win over the higher-seeded Malaysia in the quarterfinals. Both Kush Kumar and Harinder Pal Sandhu lifted their games and played outstandingly according to coach Cyrus Poncha.
It was Kush who entered the court first and straightway went into a tight line and length in his drives and returns.
Inspiring confidence and giving his team mates enough to cheer, Kush went from strength to strength to demolish his opponent Mohammad Kamal in straight games.
There was tension still as Harinder went in next. After his not-so-assuring show against Japan, the captain needed to show his mettle and that is exactly what he did. Never having beaten Ivan Yuen in the previous five times the two have met, the odds were in the Malaysian’s favour. The higher-ranked Ivan, however, has been having a rough time in this championship and Harinder made the most of his rival’s discomfiture.
Only in the third game, when on 10-6 and match ball, did Harinder looked unsure and gave Ivan the opportunity to catch up. But the Indian bounced back in time to grab that game on extended points and in the process the match too amidst all round cheers.
India now faces Pakistan in the semifinals.
The women too after the loss to Malaysia earlier needed to do well. However, it was an easy outing against Sri Lanka as it returned a 3-0 winner to finish second in the group. India now faces top seed Hong Kong in the criss-cross semifinal and that on all accounts will be a tough contest.
Men: Quarterfinal: India bt Malaysia 2-0 (Kush Kumar bt Mohammad Syafiq Kamal 11-4, 11-7, 11-4; Harinder Pal Sandhu bt IvanYuen 11-9, 11-6, 13-11)
Women: India bt Sri Lanka 3-0 (Joshna Chinappa bt Mihiliya Methsarani 11-3, 11-3, 11-7; Dipika Pallikal bt Fathima Naushaard Issadeen 11-2, 11-2, 11-7; Sachika Ingale bt Hettiachi Kasuni Malkini Gunawardene 11-7 11-6, 11-5).
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