Doha: India snatched a dramatic 2-1 win against Hong Kong to enter the semi-finals of the World junior squash team championship here Monday for only the second time and will take on top seeded Egypt who blanked Canada 3-0.
The other semi-final will be between Pakistan who overcame Japan 2-0 and England who coasted to a 3-0 win against the US.
India, seeded fourth and semi-finalists in 2008, were under pressure than they were expecting to be after their number two, Vrishab Koitan went down 3-0 to Yip Tsz Fung in the first singles.
Thus, if the seedings promised a close match, they duly delivered, with fifth-seeded Hong Kong taking the lead. However, India leveled when Mahesh Mangaonkar defeated Cheuk Yan Tank in just 28 minutes.
It left Kush Kumar to put India through as he won 12-10 in the fourth against Yeung Ho Wai, to set off wild celebrations among his team-mates.
"We were certainly taken to the wire," said Indian coach Cyrus Poncha. "We knew Hong Kong were a very strong team and we were ready for it. Our line-up today was a tactical decision.
"Our first match, Vrishab was not able to match his opponent's consistency. In the second singles, Mahesh showed that he was a superior player and showcased his class, with his great volleying and aggressive drives."
Kush Kumar, the Asian U17 champion, played an outstanding match of aggression and defence, moving his opponent to all corners of the court in a duel lasting 61 minutes. Kush, playing some superlative drops, ensured victory for the Indians.
The results (quarter-finals):
4-India beat 5-Hong Kong 2-1: Vrishab Koitan lost to Yip Tsz Fung 8 -11, 4-11, 9-11 (38 minutes); Mahesh Mangaonkar bt Cheuk Yan Tank 11/4, 11/4, 11/2 (28 minutes); Kush Kumar bt Yeung Ho Wai 11-9, 11-7, 3-11, 12-10 (61 minutes).
1-Egypt beat 10-Canada 3-0; 2-Pakistan beat Japan 2-0; 3-England beat 6-US 3-0.