ISLAMABAD - Top seeds Pakistan crushed defending champions India in the final of the 16th Asian Junior Squash Team Championship to become new champions in Seoul, Korea on Sunday.
In 2011, same opponents beat Pakistan in Sri Lanka in the 15th Asian Junior Squash final. In the female category, India edged out Hong Kong 2-1 to win the event while Pakistani girls finished fifth as they beat hosts Korea 2-0 in a play-off match.
Pakistan team remained unbeaten throughout the tournament. Head coach Jamshed Gul once again picked the wonder kid of Pakistan squash, Syed Ali Bokhari against arguably the most talented Indian player Mahesh Mangoawkar, who in the last Asian Junior Squash Championship played pivotal role in guiding India to gold.
Ali started the match on a very high note as he won the first game 11-5 with utmost ease. In the next game, Mahesh bounced back in style and took the next two games 11-5 and 11-9. But Ali did not let the match slip and took the fourth game 11-6 to level the match 2-2. Ali did not allow Mahesh any chance of comeback in the fifth and decisive game and took it 11-7 to record a 3-2 victory to give Pakistan 1-0 advantage.
In the next match, Pakistan’s Bilal Zakir brushed aside Indian Deepak in straight games 3-0 to won the title for his country, further cementing Pakistan's status as the top team in the entire region as Pakistan are Asian senior champions too. Bilal won the first game 11-7 and raced on to take the third game 11-6. Deepak tried to put some resistance in the third game but Bilal overcame a fighting Deepak winning the third game 11-9 to take Pakistan home. Ammad Fareed was picked for the third tie which was a dead rubber against Kush Kumar but he was withdrawn.
Talking exclusively to The Nation from Korea, Pakistan squash team head coach Jamshed said: “I have already make up my mind I will pick my most experienced and secret weapon Bilal Zakir for the crunch tie and he proved his credentials by not only winning a crucial match against Deepak of India but also steering his team to a crushing 2-0 victory over arch-rivals India.” Jamshed said he had full confidence in his boys’ abilities and they had proved his each and every word by giving a memorable performance against the top Indian team.
Pakistani girls also gave the country something to cheer as they won the fifth position play-offs by defeating hosts South Korea 2-0 to return home with their heads high. The girl's performance is very encouraging for the federation too and if the federation will provide them more opportunities at international level then these promising girls can ensure the laurels in return. Samar Anjum played the first match against Park Min Ju. Sammar overcame a fighting Park 3-0 but faced tough resistance as she won the first game 11-9, then won the second game 11-8 and the third 11-9. Riffat Khan was given preference over Sadia Gul to play the second fixture against Eum Hwa Young. Riffat lived up to the occasion as she beat Eum 11-5, 11-5 and 11-4.
Meanwhile, former Pakistan national coach and international referee Faheem Gul has congratulated team Pakistan for winning gold medal and also lauded the girl's efforts and termed it a good omen for the future of Pakistan squash.