Pakistan Expected to Struggle in Asian Squash

Islamabad, Apr 28 (IANS): Pakistan's inexperienced team will struggle and have slim chances to defend their title of Asian squash team championship scheduled to be held next month in Kuwait, said an analyst Friday.

Analysing the Pakistani team and its possible performances in the event, senior sports analyst Shehbaz Bhutta said the inclusion of three newcomers in the four-member team had made the side weak and had shortened its strengths.

"I fear the current team has not so much strength and experience to reach the victory stand," Bhutta was quoted as saying by Xinhua.

"In the absence of Aamir Atlas Pakistan's chances are bleak as the selected newcomers lack practice of playing together and now in my view only a miracle can help Pakistan in retaining the championship title," added Bhutta.

Pakistan's four-member team consists of senior Farhan Mehboob, Nasir Iqbal, Farhan Zaman and Sheikh Saqib and will leave for Kuwait on April 29 to defend their title against 12 top teams of the region, including China, India, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, Kuwait, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Iran, South Korea and Japan.

Atlas, the country's top player, was not included in the team due to his two-year ban imposed by the Pakistan's Squash Federation.

Regarding team selection, local media quoted head coach of Pakistani team Jamshed Gul as saying: "Three new players have been provided with chance for their exposure at the international level. And I am confident the boys would perform well despite having little time for preparations."

Pakistan are placed in Pool D along with hosts Kuwait, China and Sri Lanka and will play its first match against China on May 1, the inaugural day of the event.

Pakistan in the field of squash had produced many world class players who have dominated the game for almost five decades. But now the country is desperately searching for glory as only three of its players are ranked in the top 100 Squash World Rankings.

Two unmatched squash giants Jahangir Khan and Jansher Khan ruled the period of 1980s and 1990s. Pakistan, between 1950 and 1997, grabbed over 30 British Open titles, 14 World Open titles and many other professional titles.

Pakistan, last time, qualified for the final of the British open in 1998 when Jansher Khan lost the title. Since then, no Pakistani could reach the final of either British or World Open.


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