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Pakistan champs; India fifth

December 14, 2002 20:02 IST

Majid Khan and Khalid Atlas came up with brilliant performances as Pakistan dethroned four-time champions England to win the team title after a gap of 20 years, in the 12th World junior men's squash championship, in Chennai, on Saturday.

Though England's newly crowned individual champion James Willstrop expectedly thrashed Khyal Muhammad 9-2, 9-0, 9-1, Atlas outplayed Jon Harford 9-4, 9-7, 9-5 and Khan scripted a 9-2, 9-3, 9-7 victory over Peter Parker in a tense decider as Pakistan pulled off a memorable 2-1 victory.

Second seeded Pakistan's stunning victory ended England's hopes of their fourth straight title. Pakistan had last won the team title in 1982 in the second edition of the official championship.

The day saw Asian junior squash's resurgence as hosts India finished an impressive fifth, defeating Mexico 3-0 in their play-off match, with Siddharth Suchde, Gaurav Nandrajog and Saurav Ghosal winning in straight games.

The legendary Jahangir Khan, who has taken over as president of the World Squash Federation, presented the trophy to the Pakistan team.

A jubiliant Pakistani coach Rahmat Khan, who took charge of the team just under a year ago, was all praise for Majid Khan and Atlas while admitting that Khayal Muhammad had little chances against the all-conquering Willstrop.

His English counterpart David Campion gave full credit to the Pakistani players, though he said Barker was not fully fit, nursing a groin injury he suffered in the early stages of the team championship.

India's fifth place finish is their best ever showing in the tournament's 22-year history, the earlier best being 15th.

Willstrop yet again proved he is a cut above the rest as he made mincemeat of Muhammad. He never gave any opportunity to his opponent and reeled of a series of winners to take the first game effortlessly.

The next two games also saw the the top Pakistani player struggling to come to terms, as the 19-year old Englishman exhibited a fine variety of shots to give his team a 1-0 lead.

However, England found themselves in trouble in the second match when the comparatively inexperienced Harford took on Atlas. The Pakistani leaped to a 5-0 lead in the opening game and went on to claim it comfortably.

In the second game, the Englishman offered some resistance, levelling scores at 7-7 after trailing 3-6. But a series of errors saw Atlas take the game.

In the crucial third game, both the players adopted a cautious approach and went for long rallies, but Atlas came out on top to level the match score 1-1.

This set the stage for the all-important match between Barker and Majid Khan.

Barker, who suffered a groin injury during England's first round match against Canada, did not appear to be the same player he was in the individual events and made a lot of errors and lost his cool on a couple of occasions over the referee's decisions.

But, Khan played brilliantly, effectively using his drop shots, and came up with some fine smashes too, to help Pakistan claim the coveted trophy and also avenge his semi-final loss to Barker in the individual event.

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