Ainaa’s A-game takes Malaysia into semis of Asian team meet


Dependable: Noor Ainaa Amani Ampandi delivered the winning point in Malaysia’s 2-1 win over India.

PETALING JAYA: Youngster Noor Ainaa Amani Ampandi has justified the faith her coaches have in her.

The 19-year-old delivered a crucial point to help Malaysia beat India 2-1 in Group B to confirm a spot in the semi-finals of the Asian Team Squash Championships at the National Squash Centre in Bukit Jalil.

Ainaa rose to the occasion when she defeated Urwashi Joshi 11-5, 11-9, 11-8 to give Malaysia an unassailable 2-0 lead.

Earlier, Malaysian Open champion Aifa Azman had given the team a brilliant start when she defeated Sunyana Kuruvilla 11-9, 11-4, 11-7 in the opening match.

Malaysia dropped one point in the third match when Rachel Arnold went down fighting 11-9, 8-11, 7-11, 11-8, 9-11 to Joshna Chinappa.

Ainaa was happy that she came through.

“The pressure was on me but I tried my best to handle it and I’m glad that I gave the winning point for Malaysia,” said Ainaa.

“Experienced players don’t give up easily, so every point is important. We’ve qualified for the semis with one more match to go against the Philippines, we hope to win that too.”

The top two teams in Group B will advance to the semis and Malaysia look set to be the group winners.

Rachel was happy to push the higher-ranked Joshna to the limit before losing.

“It was very close. I was the one who was playing catch up throughout the match. It would have been better if I had held some leads,” she said.

“I’m doing okay to push the top players and hopefully, we can keep this momentum.”

RESULTS MEN

Group A: Japan bt India 3-0; Indonesia bt the Philippines 3-0; Iraq bt Pakistan 3-0; Japan bt the Philippines 3-0; Iraq bt Indonesia 3-0; India bt Pakistan 2-1.

WomenGroup A: Hong Kong bt Japan 2-1; South Korea bt Sri Lanka 3-0.

Group B: Malaysia bt India 2-1 (Rachel Arnold lost 11-9, 8-11, 7-11, 11-8, 9-11 Joshna Chinappa; Aifa Azman bt Sunyana Kuruvilla 11-9, 11-4, 11-7; Noor Ainaa Amani Ampandi bt Urwashi Joshi 11-5, 11-9, 11-8); Iran bt the Philippines 2-1.

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