For the first time in the history of the Asian Squash Championships, India made the men’s and women’s finals here Friday.
In the semifinals, the Indian women beat Korea 2-0 to set up a title clash with Hong Kong, who overcame Malaysia 2-1, while the men ousted Kuwait 2-0 and take on arch-rivals Pakistan who eliminated Malaysia.
In the second singles, India No.1 Dipika Pallikal lived up to expectations by cruising past the Korean champion Song Sun Mi in straight games.
In the men’s semifinal, India took on hosts Kuwait, who were supported by a vociferous crowd. Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu, playing first, handled the tense situation superbly and contained the extremely aggressive Salem Fayez Mohammed.
Both players displayed superb retrieving abilities but Harinder came out the victor in straight games with his more consistent display.
India No. 1 Saurav Ghosal, the highest ranked player in the tournament, outwitted the talented Abdullah Al Muzayen 3-1.
Ghosal, an improved and mature player, had a precise plan of pinning Al Muzayen to his weaker backhand side. This paid although Al Muzayen displayed his characteristic finishing shots to the delight of the gallery.
‘This is a remarkable performance, we are very proud of our players,’ said Cyrus Poncha after India’s historic entry into the final.
The results (semifinals):
Men – India beat Kuwait 2-0: Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu bt Salem Fayez Mohammed 12-10, 11-9, 11-7; Saurav Ghosal bt Abdullah Al Muzayen 12-10, 12-14, 11-9, 11-7.
Women – India beat Korea 2-0: Anaka Alankmony bt Yang Yeon Soo 11-8, 8-11, 11-9, 11-2; Dipika Pallikal bt Song Sun Mi 11-7, 11-8, 11-2.