Chennai, Jan 31: Hosts and fourth seed India would be banking on home advantage, while top seed and formidable Egypt start as favourites in the first ever Under-21 World Cup Squash Team Championship beginning here tomorrow.
India’s numero Uno and world number 15 Dipika Pallikal, who would be leading the home country’s challenge in the event, would be the highest ranked player in the fray, but Egypt was touted as favourites as they would be led by World Junior Champion and British Junior winner Marwan El Shorbagy, who was ranked 41 in the world.
Eight countries were divided into two groups. After the league phase, top two teams would enter the knock out semifinals.
Each match would be of three sets with two singles involving men and one involving women, which would be played after the first singles.
Apart from Dipika, who has been in fine form following her runner-up finish in a major tournament in US a few days back, the Indian team comprised of Ravi Dixit, Ramit Tandon, Karan Malik and Anaka Alankamony.
Exuding confidence of a good showing from the team, Dipika said ”though all the matches will be tough, we have a very good talented team. We have a very good chance of making it to the final and win the title”.
Talking to UNI, she said every match would be tough. ”We will not take any team lightly”. India would launch its campaign with a match against Germany tomorrow. Egypt and Australia are the other two teams in the group.
Stating that playing at home would really help the team, Dipika said the team, ”We have trained very hard for the championship and was confident of India putting up a good show and enter the final.
”I am not overconfident. I am confident that we will play well and enter the final and have a go at the title”, she added.
Led by Shorbagy, Egypt has fielded a very strong side for the championship, including world no 42 Karim Abdel Gawad, three world junior champions Marwan El Shorbagy Nour El Tayeb and Mohd Ashraf Abouelghar.
England, who was seeded second and grouped along with France, Hong Kong and Malaysia, has also fielded a strong team.
Matches on the first two days would be played at the Indian Squash Academy. The knock out rounds- the semi-finals and finals would be held at India’s largest shopping mall ”Express Avenue Mall”. At the shopping mall, the matches would be held on all glass show court. For the first time the show court would have a glass anti-slip floor fitted with LED lights below, giving a different feel to the court.
With the WSF making all efforts to get squash recognition as a medal sport in 2020 Olympics, the new innovation, using the latest technology, would be showcased to International Olympic Committee (IOC) Member and President, Sports Accord, Hein Verbruggen, who would witness the semi finals and the final. (UNI)



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