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After three successive defeats in the final over the past six years, second seeds Pakistan upset favorites Egypt in the climax of the VDC Dental-Care WSF Men’s World Junior Team Squash Championship to win the World Squash Federation title for a record-equalling fifth time.
The unexpected triumph in the Polish city of Bielsko-Biała marks the first world team squash title won by Pakistan—the one-time powerhouse nation of world squash—since 2008.
Underdogs Pakistan put themselves in the driving seat in the opening battle between the squads’ number ones when Israr Ahmed avenged his semi-final defeat to Saadeldin Abouaish in the earlier world individual championship to earn a hard-fought straight-games win.
All three games went almost point-for-point, but the 18-year-old Pakistani from Lahore managed to find a way to take crucial leads in all three – leading 10-7 in the first before winning it 11-9; taking the last two points from nine-all in the second; and, agonizingly for the Egyptians, again pulling clear from seven-all in the third to take the match 11-9.
Order was restored in the second match when Youssef Ibrahim Abdallah leveled the tie for Egypt. After the 17-year-old Egyptian took the opening game, fellow squad number two Ahsan Ayaz drew level by taking the second – for the same score 13-11.
The Cairo teenager was on top for the remainder of the match, however, winning 13-11, 11-13, 11-5, 11-6 to set up a decider.
Egypt had a brief lead early in the match between 18-year-old Pakistani Abbas Shoukat and Marwan Tarek Abdelhamid, a 16-year-old from Cairo making his championship debut.
To the joy of the Pakistani camp, however, Shoukat closed out the match 11-7, 11-9, 11-8 in 37 minutes to return the trophy to Asia after eight years.
England and USA shared third place – England celebrating their return to the top four after their only failure in 18 appearances since 1980 two years ago, and USA making history by reaching the semi-finals for the first time ever.
Despite failing to make their seeding, third seeds France recorded their best finish since 2000 after beating India in the play-off for fifth place.
Five-time former champions Australia also had much to celebrate—winning the seventh place play-off against Trans Tasman rivals New Zealand to mark their best finish since 2002.
Perhaps the most impressive outcome in the lower positions was achieved by Jordan, who finished in 10th place in their championship debut!
Guatemala marked their fifth appearance in the event since 2008 with their best finish—18th place.
The biggest disappointment was recorded by 2014 semi-finalists Malaysia who, despite being the 7th seeds and boasting the world individual champion Eain Yow Ng, finished in 13th place—their lowest position since 1984.