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Press Report 1998

Indian notch a thriller


By Raju Chainani

Mid-day 18-9-1998

PRINCETON, August 18 INDIA won a thrilling encounter against South Africa to finish in 17th place at the 10th World Junior Squash Championships. Their 2-1 scoreline spanned three hours and 40 minutes and was only outdone by the final between England and Egypt. It took four and a half hours to separate these two with England's Lee Jemmett beating Kareem Darwish 10-8 in the fifth game of the deciding rubber to help his side retain the trophy.

Gaurav Juneja played his heart in his match against Michael Marcos. He was defensive at the start but had a much better second game which he might well have won. At that point, things looked grim for the Otters Club junior. Juneja started rallying in the third and it made life uncomfortable for the Springbok.

When the Indian won the fourth and then led 2-0 in the decider, there were worried looks in the South African bench. Sadly, Juneja had an attack of cramps and it gave Marcos the chance to inch home 9-5, 1-08, 6-9, 5-9, 9-2 after 82 minutes.

Ritwik Bhattacharya found himself 1-7 down to John Argyle in the first game. He was hitting far too many loose balls but as the match progressed, the national champion got into a groove.

He was volleying well and kept the ball tight. In 45 minutes, he had beaten Aryle 4-9. 9-2, 9-0 and it all now hinged on Gaurav Juneja's match with Lloyd Barcza.

Like his colleagues had done earlier, Gaurav found himself a game down, mainly due to his mistakes. He leveled, lost the third game and then began on a recovery mission. It was 4-4 in the fourth before he pulled away and when he led 6-2 in the decider, it looked all over. Three unforced errors in a row had the Indians worried but Gaurav put away a forehand volley and then wrong-footed Bareza with a superb backhand to end this 69 minute match.

It was a tremendous performance by the Indians. The Juneja twins had played despite leg injuries. "They all gave a hundred per cent. Today was something special. It was a great way to end the event," said coach Yogendra Singh.

The main final saw Wael Hatem, El-Hendry put Egypt ahead with a convincing 9-2, 9-3, 9-6 victory in 57 minutes against Adrian Grant. Then Mohammed Abbas choked when 2-1 up against Nick Matthew and the Englishman prevailed in a 92 minute battle. Matthew won 10-8, 1-9, 4-9, 9-4, 9-3.

Kareem Darwish was also 2-1 ahead in the deciding rubber against Lee Jemmett.

The England captain took the fourth game 9-1 and then, on his sixth match-point, had a forehand volley which was too good for Darwish. It was 7-9, 9-2, 3-9, 9-1, 10-8 to Jemmett after 85 minutes and England had retained the trophy.

Other results

3rd place: Pakistan beat France 3-0
5th place: Spain beat Canada 2-1
7th place: Malaysia beat Wales 3-0
9th place: Germany beat Holland 2-1
11th place: Australia beat Hong Kong 2-1
13th place: Argentina beat Ireland 2-1
15th place: N Z beat Switzerland 2-1
17th place: India beat Sooth Africa 2-1
19th place: Scotland beat USA 2-1
21st place: Finland beat Columbia 2-1
23rd place: Brazil beat Sweden 3-0
25th place: Kuwait beat Zimbabwe 2-1
27th place: Bermuda beat Venezuela 2-1
29th place: Kenya beat El Salvador 3-0

Birthday Bonanza

By Raju Chainani
Mid-day 11-5-1998

SACHIN TENDULKAR and Peter Nicol. One a master blaster, the other a racket magi-an.   On   his   25th   birthday,   Tendulkar sparkled in India's win over Australia at sharjah. Just a few days earlier, it had been the southpaw's crowning moment and he gave himself the perfect birthday present when he beat the redoubtable Jansher Khan in the British Open final.

It was back in 1973, three months before Nicol Peter as born that Jonah Barrington won the British Open. It was his sixth success in the event and the following year, his attempt to equal the legendary Hashim Khan's record was stopped by M Yasin who later was to coach Jansher. For the last 16 years the British Open has been dominated by the two . Jahangir won 10 in a row and then it was Jansher's turn to take over.

Nicol has broken that sequence. Since February he has taken over as world number one and his latest victory has seen him extend his lead over the mercurial Pakistani With Jansher presently on the repair list it is anybody's guess whether he can make a comeback.

Nicol's rise to the top is an example for many a youngster. Six years ago he won his first major title, the Singapore  Open.  Since then the progress chart has shown a steady upward trend. He is supremely fit, a fact which Jansher   readily   acknowledges.   In   Neil Harvey, the former England number one, Nicol has found a coach who he can relate to well. It's almost akin to the bond between Ramakant Achrekar and the little master.

In the cricket world, comparisons are being made between Tendulkar and Bradman. For Peter Nicol, there still is some way to go before he can be talked of in the same breath as Jahangir, Jansher or even Jonah. During the last 12 months he has shown his prowess, beating Jansher four times in major tournaments. Barrington is an Peter Nicol fan. He came up the hard way and the fitness factor played the dominant role, much as it does with Nicol. In Tendulkar and Nicol the sporting world has two extraordinary athletes. They are at the top of their respective professions. Was it sheer coincidence that on their 25th birthday they both had reserved something special for their fans?

'Electric' Adrian has it in him

By Raju Chainani
Indian Express 2-9-1988

ADRIAN, Adrian", they chanted, almost in harmony. The glass-back court at the CCI had never seen anything like it as the pony-tails and buck teeth chorus made their presence felt. On stage was the boy wonder, just sweet sixteen. He had reached the finals of the juniors and men's events at the Western India Squash championships. It was a feat last achieved by the great Anil Nayar in 1965, some twenty-two years ago. Nayar did the historic double and it wasn't beyond Adrian Ezra to emulate the feat.

A sixty-five minute encounter with his close rival, Farokh Pan-dole, took its toll. Adrian won in five games but was a mere shadow of himself against Meherwan Daruvala in the men's final.

To talk of him in the same breath as Anil Nayar is a mere fallacy. Adrian has had the benefit of coaching in England under Abbas Kaoud, a former top ten world ranker, But it is in India that he doesn't have professional advice. Nayar was under the eagle eye of Yusuf. For someone at Adrian's age where immaturity and lack of finesse could make the difference between becoming a champion and remaining very promising, the requirement of a coach or professional manager is absolutely essential.

I put this question to Anil Nayar when he visited Bombay a few days ago. "We don't have a Yusuf in our ranks. So let's make do with the best available. I mean someone like Fali Madon or Ananth Nayak. Both have intimate knowledge of the game and what's more important, they know the opposition. They should be approached to act as professional managers". words of wisdom from India's greatest squash player.

Let's take this a step further. Champions train, analyse the competition and listen to their coaches. To beat Meherwsin Adrian needs to do just that. He's got the talent, the physique and the will to win. He new needs to be led to the water

LAST year, Adrian showed the progress he had made by beating Farokh Pandole in three finals. He then caused a sensation as he upset the explosive Nirjit Singh. Further victories over the Services' champion Ravinder Malik ensured him a place among the probables for the Asian championships. To don India's silks at sixteen is a tremendous achievement.

Perhaps Adrian's best squash lesson came in his encounters with Raj Manchanda, The fox, as he is known, tamed the lamb, with a delightful display of ball control, If ever there was a video recording of this, Adrian would learn a lot. He was made to run around whilst the veteran waited for the loose ball.

That was almost a year ago. Adrian has no business to lose to Manchanda this year. With Meherwan, the gap appears to be closing. The National champion is a superb athlete. He is fit  fast and gusty. He knows how to return pressure with pressure, the hallmark of a great champion. Five All-India titles speak for themselves. Some time ago, it was Manchanda who had given Meherwan sleepless nights. On occasions the delightful tough and power play of Narjit have upset the applecart, Today, Meherwan's greatest rival appears to be Adrian. I don't think he's quite caught up yet.

As the curtain rises for another squash season, the boy wonder from Electric House has begun on a winning note. His West Zone Inter-Schools victory was a mere warm-up for him as he sliced through the opposition. There are bigger hurdles ahead.

With the boisterous support of his fan club and the backing of his spotting parents, the stage is set for an Ezra invasion. Add to this a professional manager like Ananth Nayak and you could have a winning combination.

How the West was won

By Raju Chainani
Indian Express 25-11-1988

INDIAN man, you speak with forked ton-Ague. You say man hit against wall and you watch through glass. Go back to your snake charmers."

Big White Chief probably hadn' t even heard of a glass-back court which heralded the era of see - through squash. From a handful of spectators who craned their necks on the contemporary courts, a few hundred could now watch the proceedings. For Indian squash 1986 was the dawn of a new era.

It was fitting that Bombay, the Mecca of Indian squash, be the venue for the country's first glass-back. To be associated with the Cricket Club of India, which was the best complex in the country, was indeed an honour. The Western India Championships, now in their forty-fifth year, have a special aroma. Winning in Bombay has always been a tough proposition. Till the Maharashtra State originated in 1976 there was only one Bombay Tournament. Today both attract the cream of Indian squash.

Looking back over the years, there have been a number of players who have etched their names in the Western India history books. Raj Kumar Narpat Singh, Madhav Apte, Din-shaw Pandole, Maj. K.S. Jain, Anil Nayar, Fali Mandon, Sanjit Roy, Raj Manchanda and Meherwan Daruvala are a few for whom winning on the CCI courts meant a great deal. Three were leading ladies too like Nandini Kumari and Bhuvaneshwari, professionals like Yusuf and Shyamlal and many others who left behind golden memories. Today, there remain but a few who can relate to the days of Abdul Ban, the only Indian to attain a world ranking in the early fifties.

In 1965, a nineteen-year-old made history. Anil Nayar won the men's and junior crowns with an unforgettable display of power and finesse. The cat-like agility and razzle-dazzle of Nayar has remained unparalled. He brought to an end the reign of Maj .K.S. Jain who had made this title a monopoly. Nayar's sparring partner was Fali Madon, another superb stylist. Such was the dominance of these two that they often left the chasing pack a distance behind. Both were trained by Yusuf Khan.

THERE was a time in 1966 when Sanjit Roy became a serious contender. He beat Fali but Yusuf made sure there was no repeat performance the following year. Thus two great friends, on and off court, took the Indian scene by storm. They were part of the team to the World Championships in Australia among with Sanjit Roy and Dinshaw Pandole.

"Bunker" Sanjit Roy has always been a great character. His ball control and technique were delight to the eye. The famous side-wall left many an opponent standing. Sadly for Indian squash, Sanjit gave it all up to devote his time to rural development. Today, he is a member of the Planning Commission. I met him a few weeks ago, khadi clothes et al at Delhi airport. Still the same lean, elegant gentleman of squash.

The left-handed Dinshaw Pandole was another with the Yusuf Khan stamp. A graceful player with a deft touch that was passed on to his sons, Darius, Farokh and Jahangir. Darius is just back from Harvard after a splendid record. The explosive Farokh rocketed into the top bracket last year. He was arguably the hardest hitter of the ball since Anil Nayar. Plumpud-ding Jahangir, no relation to the Pathan, is also making his mark amongst the juniors.

Twenty-two years after Anil Nayar did the double. A sixteen-year-old stood on the threshold of equaling this unique record. A five-game junior final with Farokh Pandole sapped his energy. But for Adrian Ezra, this was a marvelous achievement. He lost to Meherwan but there was enough to suggest that a new star had been born.

Meherwan Daruvala, the five times National champion has never lost at the CCI glass-back court. He won the inaugural Masters (November 1, 1986), Western India and Nationals (January 1987). Last year too, he walked away with the Masters and the Western India. But the challengers are making their presence felt. Apart from the artistic Narjit Singh, there is Ravinder Malik who has beaten him in two of their three encounters this season. Darius Pandole is very much in the fray. Along with Adrian Ezra he had played quite regularly with Meherwan.

The champ does not look his real self at all. He's stumbling and is not like the Daruvala we've known over the past decade. His rivalry with Darius goes to 1981 when he lost the senior final at Jaipur. Today, the battle royale continues, albeit at a much higher level.

BHUVANESHWARI Kumari has made the ladies event a one-horse race. Unbeaten for over a decade, the soft-spoken Princess of Alwar, is a remarkable athlete. She enters the Open events and has caused a few ripples. She is the first Indian lady to win a tournament overseas. Her victory in the Kenya Open, a fortnight ago, was a thunderbolt to some of the game's dirty officials who refused to give her a clearance She now takes on friendly, opposition in Bombay and is set to enhance her trophy collection.

As the curtain rises on this Blue Riband Tournament, there's an air of expectancy. Grindlays Bank have stepped up their sponsorship. The glass-back court, despite its problems, is the centre stage. The Old Fox, Raj Manchanda, has arrived to teach the younger Brigade a lesson or two. Meherwan "the Boxer" is ready to defend his crown. The vultures, Adrian, Narjit, Malik and Darius are hovering dangerously close. Keeping a close watch on the proceedings are two of the game's characters, the stud and mickey mouse.

Big White Chief had by now understood a little on how the West was won. "But, Indian Man, please explain. I see Daruvala, Sodawalla and Ice-walla, but you say champion is Bombaywalla. You talk like newspaperwala."

Shocker: Bikram Uberoi sacked for indiscipline

By Raju Chainani
Mid-day 6-8-1998

PRINCETON, August 6 BIKRAM Uberoi has been axed from the Indian team at the 10th World Junior Squash Championships.

Following a team meeting yesterday coach Yogendra Singh said: "On Tuesday, Uberoi claimed he was unwell He was very reluctant to see the Tournament Doctor and minted to visit his relatives in Baltimore. He has refused to listen when specifically told to take rest

"During  the  last  few days he has caused unnecessary tension and did not involve himself with any team activity. We tried to reason with him but his mind was set on going away for a couple of days.

"We are here as a team and it is most important   that   everybody   is together and give a hundred percent. Unfortunately, this was not the case with Uberoi. In the circumstances we asked him to leave. He shall not be taking further part in the event The matter has been reported to the Squash Rackets Federation of India (SRFI)."Never before has an Indian squash player been dropped at an international event because of indiscipline,

Uberoi was skating on this ice here. Coach Yogendra Singh's decision is a bold one and needs to be lauded It remains to be seen what further action the SRFI takes.


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