Favourite and top-seeded Egypt did not need to stretch, so too host India as the opening matches in Pool A went without as much as a hiccup on Wednesday in the SDAT-WSF under-21 World Cup squash at the Indian Squash Academy.
Still the Indian manager Maj. Maniam would not view India's 3-0 win over Germany as an easy affair. “We had expected it to go without much fight. But there was something interesting,” he said, though it was clear, going by the form of the Indians, he would not wish to sound complacent.
But then Ramit Tandon who was the first to enter the court to play the well-built Rudi Rohrmuller, did give an impression of losing his way midway, a typical Indian failing which luckily for him, did not prove costly.
With two games neatly knit and when everyone expected him to wrap up the match in style, Ramit found himself trailing 4-9 thanks to several unforced errors. The Indian had until then shown admirable control over his strokes with clever range and some wristy placings. The way he found the area above the tin with consistency, be it from the forecourt or away, Ramit displayed class.
All that seemed to get botched up in that momentary phase of erratic play. But he did not disappoint; rather he came back with four points in a row and there ended Rudi's dream of extending the contest.
There was no such luxury for Franziska Hennes who faced Dipika Pallikal in the second match. Fresh from a wonderful period of excellent displays abroad which helped her to move up to World No. 14 (latest), Dipika did not have to be at her best. Such was the gulf in standards of the two players.
A few cross-court shots, the two-wall boasts and the assured touch on the forecourt were enough to bring an early finish and bring India the match victory.
The third match in the tie was also gone through since that is mandatory in the league, Karun Malik came instead of Ravi Dixit and lived up to the expectation of the team management by winning over Velantin Rapp.
Egypt's match against Australia started later than India's but that was the first tie to get decided in the championship. Nothing surprising when the team has in its ranks such talents as Marwan E. Shorbagy and Nour El Tayeb, both reigning World junior champions.
Once they settled the issue in Egypt's favour, the sprightly Mohamed Abouelghar came on to provide the icing to the cake. Australia's coach, the former World champion Rodney Eyles, admitted Egypt was an awesome side but he thought his players, most of them raw on the international plane, had stood up well.
Asked why he did not field the team's No. 1 woman player Sarah Cardwell instead of Tamika Saxby, he said Tamika had accounted herself well against El Tayeb in the World juniors and thought it would work better today.
If Tamika's ability to go neck and neck with the Egyptian for a while in the third game was anything to be said, then Eyles had a point, though Egypt's march ahead as such was unaffected.
Pool A: Egypt bt Australia 3-0 (Marwan El Shorbagy bt Jamie McErvale 11-8, 11-3, 11-3; Nour El Tayeb bt Tamika Saxby 11-4, 11-4, 11-7; Mohamed Abouelghar bt Walter Koteka 11-8, 11-7, 11-4).
India bt Germany 3-0 (Ramit Tandon bt Rudi Rohrmuller 11-2, 11-5, 12-10; Dipika Pallikal bt Franziska Hennes 11-2, 11-4, 11-7; Karan Malik bt Valentin Rapp 11-8, 11-6, 11-4).
Pool B: England bt Hong Kong China 3-0 (Charles Sharpes bt Cheuk Yan Tang 11-1, 11-2, 11-8; Emily Whitlock bt Karman Siu 11-2, 11-9, 9-11, 11-7; Declan James bt Wong Chi-Him 11-6, 11-8, 12-10).
France bt Malaysia 2-1 (Lucas Serme bt Affeeq Abedeen Ismail 11-5, 11-9, 11-9; Cyrielle Peltier lost to Tan Yan Xin 6-11, 11-13, 13-11, 2-11; Geoffrey Demont bt Sanjay Singh 11-5, 11-7, 11-6).