Incheon: India took a big step towards winning another squash medal at the Incheon Asian Games after the women's team, including Joshana Chinappa and Dipika Pallikal, upset Hong Kong 2-1 before beating Pakistan 3-0 in Pool B here on Wednesday.
Chinappa and Anaka Alankamony won their matches after India number one Pallikal lost the opening singles to Hong Kong's top player Annie Au in five gruelling games at the Yeorumul Squash Courts. India had it easier later in the day against Pakistan.
India, who had to settle for a bronze in Guangzhou four years ago, have a good chance winning at least a silver here. Having beaten the fancied Hong Kong unit and Pakistan, they should beat China tomorrow enroute to topping the group. In that scenario, India are likely to face either Korea or Japan from the other group in the semifinals. It is highly unlikely that Japan or Korea will finish ahead of mighty Malaysia in Pool A.
"We have a good chance for silver now but we are not thinking too far ahead. Hopefully we can top our pool and take it forward from there," World No.12 Pallikal told PTI.
India's first ever women's singles bronze medallist at Asian Games went down fighting to 11th-ranked Annie 11-5 6-11 8-11 12-10 9-11, giving the opposition early advantage.
Pallikal's longtime teammate and Word No. 21 Chinappa had to win against 23rd-ranked Joey Chan to keep India alive in the tie. She staged a remarkable recovery to keep her team afloat in the competition, coming back from two games down to win 6-11 8-11 11-5 11-9 11-9.
World No. 158 Anaka Alankamony, who was controversially nominated for the Arjuna Award last month, was up against 42nd ranked Tong Tsz Wing. The Indian, whose ranking has dropped drastically in the last two years, played a solid match to give India an unexpected win. The final scoreline read 11-8 11-13 11-9 11-5 in favour of Alankamony.
The men's team eased past China 3-0 for its second straight win in Pool B. India's top player Saurav Ghosal, who lost a long singles final to settle for silver yesterday, was rested again.
Women: India beat Hong Kong 2-1 (Dipika Pallikal lost to Annie Au 11-5 6-11 8-11 12-10 9-11, Joshana Chinappa beat Joey Chan 6-11 8-11 11-5 11-9 11-9, Anaka Alankamony beat Tong Tsz Wing 11-8 11-13 11-9 11-5). India beat Pakistan 3-0 (Dipika Pallikal beat Maria Wazir Toorpakai 8-11 7-11 12-10 11-9 11-6, Joshana Chinappa beat Moqaddas Ashraf 11-4 11-8 11-9, Aparajitha Balamurukan beat Riffat Khan 11-3 11-3 11-3).
Men: India beat China 3-0 (Mahesh Mangaonkar 11-2 11-7 9-11 11-2, Harinder Pal Sandhu beat Jiaqi Shen 11-4 11-9 11-5, Kush Kumar beat Tianxia Yang 11-7 11-1 11-1).