Indian women squash team today created history by winning its maiden Asian title by defeating top seed Hong Kong 2-0 in the final in Kuwait.
The men’s team, however, went down 0-2 against Pakistan in the summit clash in the 16th Asian Team Squash Championship.
In the women’s final, Joshna Chinnappa, ranked 71st in the world, waged a grim battle against world number 16 Joey Chan before winning 11-3 11-8 8-11 11-8 in 38 minutes to put India 1-0 ahead.
Dipika Pallikal, ranked 14th, then complemented the superb show by her compatriot, winning 11-8 12-10 11-8 against world number seven Annie Au in 32 minutes to seal the issue in India’s favour.
India’s best performance in the women’s team championship was a silver medal at the last championship held in 2010 in Chennai.
Unperturbed by the difference in rankings, Joshna stamped her class over Chan right from the beginning. She took advantage of the fact that the day before, her opponent had to endure five hard games against her Malaysian counterpart Delia Arnold.
Joshna’s aggressive play, laced with delicate drops and deception, was simply too much for Chan to handle as she dropped the first game 11-2 in less than 10 minutes.
Joshna kept her composure to keep at bay an aggressive Chan in the second game. The Hong Kong racqueter seemed to be warming up in the third game and her shots were more effective as she had the Indian scurrying around the court.
Unaffected by the loss of third game, Joshna came back with a vengeance and wrapped up the fourth game and match to give India the much needed first point.
Dipika went in next against world number six Annie.
Dipika had never beaten Annie earlier but that did not deter her determination.
Dipika’s aggression paid dividends against Annie, who is renowned for a steady lob and drop game. The Indian kept the pressure on her opponent throughout the match with her aggressive play and characteristic finishing shots.
Annie made a gallant fightback in the third game, but Dipika held her nerves to claw back from 4-7, winning six straight points to help India collect their first ever Asian senior women’s title.
The Indian men’s team, however, faltered at the last hurdle against arch rivals Pakistan.
National champion Saurav Ghosal squandered a 2-0 advantage and went down in five games to Pakistan’s number one Farhan Mehboob in the first singles.
The script did not change in the second singles as Siddharth Suchde lost to Farhan Zaman in five games.
The India’s men’s team equalled its silver-winning performance in the team championship in the inaugural edition of the tournament held in 1981 in Karachi.
The Results (finals):
Women: Joshna Chinnappa bt Joey Chan 11-3 11-8 8-11 11-5 (32 min)
Dipika Pallikal bt Annie Au 11-8 12-10 11-8 (37min).
Men: Farhan Mehboob bt Saurav Ghosal 10-12 6-11 11-7 11-6 11-9.
Farhan Zaman bt Siddharth Suchde 11-7 11-6 11-13 7-11 11-9.