India suffered a narrow 1-2 loss against arch-rivals Pakistan in the pre-quarterfinals of the WSF-World Junior Squash team championship in Chennai on Thursday. In what was a hugely anticipated clash, the visitors from across the border, seeded 11th, marched ahead as Haris Qasim and Abbas Zeb posted wins over Rahul Baitha and Yash Fadte respectively after losing the opening match.
Baitha started positively and won the opening game with some steady play. Qasim came back after wining a close second game in which both players had their chances and the momentum seemed to turn in his favour from thereon.
He took the next two games comfortably to put Pakistan 1-0 ahead dampening the spirits of the crowd at the Express Avenue mall. In the second match, India number one Fadte began well and took the opening game 11-6 as the home side cheered on by the crowd looked to mount a fightback. However, Zeb roared back into contention by taking the second game 11-9 and the next on extra points.
With a lot at stake, Zeb turned on the heat and raced away to 8-0 lead before winning the same 11-2 to sew up the match. Veer Chotrani then beat Muhammad Uzair 12-10, 11-5 to reduce the margin for India.
“We’re just so relieved now, there was a lot of pressure. Our boys started slowly but they both picked up the pace and I’m proud of how they handled it,” said Pakistan coach Mo Yasin after the win.
Pakistan next meets third-seed England in the quarterfinal. Meanwhile, top-seed Egypt brushed aside Argentina 3-0 to sail into the last eight along with second-seeded Canada, which blanked Australia. There was a minor upset as Hong Kong, seeded nine, beat Colombia, the seventh-seed 2-1.
Results: Pre-quarterfinals: Pakistan beat India 2-1 (Haris Qasim bt Rahul Baitha 8-11, 16-14, 11-6, 11-7; Abbas Zeb bt Yash Fadte 6-11, 11-9, 12-10, 11-2; Muhammad Uzair lost to Veer Chotrani 10-12, 5-11).
Hong Kong bt Colombia 2-1; Malaysia bt Ireland 2-0; Australia lost to Canada 0-3; Egypt bt Argentina 3-0; Germany lost to England 0-2; Czech Republic bt Switzerland 2-0; USA bt New Zealand 2-0.