Pakistani juggernaut at Asian Junior Individual C’ship

Pakistanis make it to the finals of all four boys’ categories — U-19, U-17, U-15 and U-13 — and win three of them.

Winners at the Asian Junior Individual Championships at the ISA courts in Chennai on Saturday.   -  R. Ravindran

Pakistan had dominated the men’s squash in the 1980s and 1990s with the likes of Jahangir Khan and Jansher Khan at the helm, but had faded into the background since.

There are now signs of a revival in sight.

At the Asian junior individual squash championship in Chennai, Pakistanis made it to the finals of all four boys’ categories — U-19, U-17, U-15 and U-13 — and won three of them. Only India’s Yuvraj Wadhwani was able to stand up to the Pakistani challenge when he won the U-13 final, defeating Anas Ali Shah.

Abbas Zeb won the U-19 category with relative ease. He clinched victory in straight games against Hong Kong’s Chung Yat Long (11-4 11-3 11-4). The lanky 16-year-old with a long reach, adept at keeping his shots low, was in control throughout the match.

Close contest

Haris Qasim scripted a resolute comeback against Malaysia’s Muhammad Amir Amirul Bin Azhar to win the U-15 category. After going two games down, he fought his way back to level the match at 2-2 despite going down injured in the fourth game. He overcame an intense fifth game against Amirul who was a formidable opponent on the day to win 10-12 8-11 11-9 11-5 11-9.

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Mohammad Hamza Khan defeated India’s Arnaav Sareen in the U-15 final. Arnaav had Indian hopes pinned on him as he eased his way into the finals, but he couldn’t get past Hamza who won in straight games.

It was a show of mighty improvement from the Pakistanis who disappointed in the World junior squash individual and team championship held in Chennai in July. They reached the semifinal of the team championship after beating India in the quarters, but no Pakistani went past the third round in the individuals.

‘Big boost to Pakistan squash’

“Our boys have trained very hard this time. Credit goes to all the coaches and physical trainers who have worked very hard and made sure we perform so well. There was an issue with stamina before but that has been addressed now as well,” said Pakistan coach Fazal Shah.

This was Pakistan’s best-ever performance at the Asian juniors. “This is a big boost to Pakistan squash. Going back after reaching all the finals and winning three of them gives us a great feeling,” he said.

Yuvraj Wadhwani was the top seed in the U-13 category and his win was not unprecedented. The 12-year-old first won the Nationals at the age of nine and is India’s top-ranked player in U-13 category. Yuvraj, who is trained by former national champion Ritwik Bhattacharya, was playing in his third Asian Championship has set his eyes on the upcoming Nationals and the British Open in January.

The other medal-winners for India were Kaavya Bansal, Tiana Parasrampria and Sanya Vats. Sayna Vats finished third in the girls U-17 category. Kavya and Tiana came third in the girls’ U-13 category.

Results
  • Boys
  • U-19: final: Abbas Zeb (3 /4) PAK bt Chung Yat Long (2)HK 11-4, 11-3, 11-4; bronze: Siow Yee Xian (MAS) and Tushar Shahani (IND)
  • U-17:final: Haris Qasim (5/8) PAK bt Muhammad Amir Amirul Bin Azar (MAS) 10-12, 8-11, 11-9, 11-5, 11-9 bronze: Daniel Nurhaqiem (MAS) and Nathan Kueh Tze Bing (MAS);
  • U-15: final: Mohammad Hamza Khan ( 3 /4) PAK bt Arnav Sareen 3 /4) IND 11-6, 11-9, 11-7; bronze: Andrik Lim Kai Shan (MAS) and Joachim Chuah Han Wen (MAS)
  • U-13: final: Yuvraj Wadhwani (1) IND bt Anas Ali Shah PAK 13-11, 11-5, 6-11, 12-10; bronze: Tam Tsz Shing (HK) and Sze Jun Him (HK)
  • Girls
  • U-19: final: Chan Yiwen (2) MAS bt Lai Wen Li (1) MAS 12-10,12-10, 11-2; bronze: Ooi Kah Yan (MAS) and Cheng Nga Ching (HK)
  • U-17: final: Chan Sin Yuk (1) HK bt Jessica Keng Jia Hui (2) MAS 11-2, 12-10, 11-9; bronze: Sanya Vats (IND) and Fung Ching Hei (HK)
  • U-15: final: Aira Azman (1) MAS bt Yee Xin Ying (2) MAS 11-9, 4-11, 11-8, 11-3; bronze: Wong Po Yui Kirstie (HK) and Tse Yee Lam Toby (HK)
  • U-13: final: Leung Ka Huen (1) HK bt Lee Sze Lok (2) HK 11-3, 5-11, 11-5, 11-5; bronze: Kavya Bansal (IND) and Tiana Parasrampuria (IND)