Pakistan and Hong Kong China emerged winners of the men's and women's team events at the Asian squash championships on Saturday. Pakistan snuffed out Malaysia's hopes of a title defence in two matches while Hong Kong China brushed aside India's feeble opposition with a similar scoreline.
The wiry Yasir Ali Butt took on the muscular Mohd. Nafiizwan to open the men's tie. The players swapped games, before Butt took off like a condor, using his wingspan to swat back anything and everything Nafiizwan sent his way. Butt clinched the last two games at four and five, putting Pakistan 1-0 up in 42 minutes.
The next match was a re-enactment of the men's individual final, with Malaysian favourite and top-seed Mohd. Azlan facing off against Aamir Atlas Khan, who'd retired from their previous encounter four days ago with pain in his right leg. On this occasion, the only player who showed signs of slowing down was Azlan.
After dropping the first two games, Azlan held a gameball in the third at 10-9. But Aamir saved it with a backhand that dropped dead on contact and converted his second matchball for an 11-8, 11-9, 13-11 win.
In the women's event, India was outplayed by a resurgent Hong Kong China, a team the host had beaten in the league stage. Anaka Alankamony fought gallantly against Joey Chan, splitting the first two games and racing to 7-3 in the third. From then, Chan won six successive points to reach 9-7 and closed the game 11-9. A 9-3 lead in the fourth game was too much for her opponent to surmount as Chan sealed it 11-7.
Joshna Chinappa (WISPA rank 31) experienced a 25-minute pasting at the hands of World. No. 18 Rebecca Chiu in the second match.
Although Cyrus Poncha — later named Coach of the Year by the Asian Squash Federation — was a constant guiding presence, not even a remote chance of an Indian revival flickered in Chiu's 11-7, 11-2, 11-5 win.
Debendranath Sarangi, the government of Tamil Nadu's sports secretary and Srivatsan Subramaniam, the SRFI secretary general, gave away the prizes.
The results: Team: Finals: Men: Pakistan bt Malaysia 2-0 (Yasir Ali Butt bt Mohd. Nafiizwan 11-5, 7-11, 11-4, 11-5; Aamir Atlas Khan bt Mohd. Azlan 11-8, 11-9, 13-11.)
Women: Hong Kong China bt India 2-0 (Joey Chan bt Anaka Alankamony 7-11, 11-1, 11-9, 11-7; Rebecca Chiu bt Joshna Chinappa 11-7, 11-2, 11-5). 5/6: Men: Hong Kong China bt Japan 2-0 (Anson Kwong bt Bumpei Kawano 11-5, 11-5, 11-4; Max Lee bt Yuta Fukui 11-8, 11-6, 11-8).
Women: Japan bt China 2-0 (Kozue Onizawa bt Gu Jinyue 11-7, 11-6, 11-5; Misaki Kobayashi bt Jiang Li 11-4, 11-9, 11-5).
Keywords: Asian squash championships