Indian girls finish third in World Squash Championship

Chennai: India overcame the US 2-1 to finish third at the world squash championship here Saturday, their best-ever performance in the girls team event.

The Indians’ previous best were their fourth place finish in 2003 when they lost to England in the play-offs in Cairo. However, on Saturday it was touch-and-go for the second-seeded Indians against the US who nearly pulled off a coup.

India’s top junior Dipika Pallikal expectedly won her first singles against Oliva Blatchford, but Surbhi Misra went down to Amanda Sobhy in the next match to tie the scores at 1-1.

In the deciding third singles, Anaka Alankamony began shakily against Julie Cerullo by losing the first game before recovering to win the next two for a 2-1 advantage.

Cerullo fought back splendidly to take the fourth game to push the match into the decider. Anaka looked well on way to victory when she led 8-3, but the American clawed her way back to 8-all before the Indian took two more points for match-ball.

Amidst mounting excitement, Anaka drifted the ball into the back corner and when the referee declared a “no-let”, it was all over with India coming through to cap a fine performance that somewhat made up for their shock defeat to Hong Kong in the semi-finals Friday.