Malaysian Girls Lift Ninth Asian Teams Title While Pakistani Men Deny Hong Kong
By Alex Wan – Squash Mad Asian Bureau Editor
A 5.6-magnitude earthquake in Su-Ao, in the northeast of Taipei, where the Asian Team Championships was held, sent tremors to Taiwan capital. Players and officials reported on social media of hotel rooms and courts being shaken, but that did not stop the show from going on.
A young Malaysian team led by seasoned campaigner Delia Arnold captured the crown for a record 9th time while Pakistan upstaged top seeds Hong Kong for their 15th title.
Hong Kong had sent their strongest squads to Taipei and both were seeded to lift the titles. However, none justified the seeding.
Delia Arnold Leads A Young Malaysian Team To Victory
In the ladies final, third seeded Malaysia defeated second seeds India 2-0, whom they had earlier beaten in the group stages, thus avoiding top seeds Hong Kong in the semi finals.
Delia Arnold, the world number 15 who was captaining the national team for the first time, clinched the winning point against the more fancied Indian team, beating world number 13 Joshna Chinappa 3-1, having come back from a game down and facing game ball 8-10 in the second.
Top junior Sivasangari Subramaniam had earlier given the Malaysians the lead with a convincing win over Sachika Ingale in straight games.
“We’re all very happy to win the title. It is sweeter winning it without the services of Nicol (David) and (Low) Wee Wern, as it shows that our younger batch of girls are coming up well. It was a good experience for me being the captain and I am proud we defied the odds to win.”
“I am very glad with the way I played throughout the event and happy to have delivered the points that mattered”, said a delighted Delia Arnold.
Pakistan Wins Yet Again
On paper, Hong Kong had the strongest team well above the rest. With world ranked 16 Max Lee leading the team and Leo Au, the world number 26 at number 2, they were well above the other teams in world rankings. However, they were unfortunate to not have the services of Leo Au as he had injured his shoulder prior to the event. But even then, the top seeds were still above the rest in the individual rankings.
In the final, Farhan Zaman and Tayyab Aslam both carved out wins over their much higher ranked opponents to deny Hong Kong of their maiden title.
Farhan Mehboob gave the defending champions a winning start when he ousted Tang Ming Hong, with an easy 11-4, 11-7, 11-4 win.
Farhan Zaman, the world number 55 then edged Max Lee 11-9 in the fifth to win Pakistan their 15th title out of 18 editions.
The Pakistani duo is clearly playing well above their rankings and it is unfortunate that we do not see them playing more actively on the PSA Tour.
Japan Wins Bronze In Both Men’s and Women’s
Japan were the other winners in this edition of the championships as both their men and women’s team reached the last four for the first time. While their women have reached this stage for 8 times since 1986, it was the first for their men.
The women, led by Misaki Kobayashi, justified their fourth seeding before losing out to eventual champions Malaysia.
However, it was their men who stole the show when they beat fourth seeds India in their group match. National champion Ryunosuke Tsukue, only 18 years of age, created a major upset beating seasoned Indian Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu 3-1. Ryosei Kobayashi, younger brother of Misaki, then defeated Kush Kumar to ensure a historic victory.
Japan’s delegate to the event, Noriko Kamiya said, “We were thrilled when our men’s team defeated India for the first time in the history. This resulted that they won the bronze for the first time as well. It’s a great result both our men and women finishing third, but as Satomi (Watanabe) said, the women could have finished higher.”
Malaysia bt India 2-0
Delia Arnold bt Joshna Chinappa 9-11, 13-11, 11-8, 11-9
Sivasangari Subramaniam beat Sachika Ingale 11-7, 11-6, 12-10
Pakistan bt Hong Kong 2-0
Farhan Zaman bt Max Lee 11-9, 10-12, 11-8, 7-11, 11-9
Farhan Mehboob bt Tang Ming Hong 11-4, 11-7, 11-4
Photos courtesy of Delia Arnold and Misaki Kobayashi