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Squash World Cup takes shape

The teams will be segregated into two pools of four sides each in the first round, with the top-two in each group advancing to the semi-finals.

Squash World Cup takes shape
Representative image

CHENNAI: With less than a month to go for the global event, the Squash World Cup, scheduled to be hosted in the city from June 13 to 17, is taking shape.

The World Cup, last held in 2011 in the country’s ‘squash capital’ Chennai, was relaunched recently and will come back in a new avatar. The World Squash Federation (WSF), the sport’s governing body, on Saturday announced the eight participating nations – host India, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Egypt, South Africa, Colombia and Australia.

The teams will be segregated into two pools of four sides each in the first round, with the top-two in each group advancing to the semi-finals.

Commenting on the revival of the World Cup and the return of a global competition to Chennai, the Squash Racquets Federation of India (SRFI) secretary general Cyrus Poncha told DT Next: “We are extremely excited to host this event. We look forward to taking it to the public. We are here to support international events [in Chennai], so we are excited.”

It is to be recalled that Chennai last hosted a global squash event in 2018, when the World Junior Championships (both individual and team) were held.

Exciting new format: The WSF has implemented a number of changes, including gender equality within teams and playing games to seven points for the first time in history.

Each team is allowed to name four members, two men and as many women, all of whom will feature in every tie that the side competes in. “We can call it the T20 format [of squash], a seven-point game. I am sure that there is going to be a lot of action and fun. There is also gender parity (in past editions, a team comprised two men and a woman),” opined Poncha.

Ties in two venues: The World Cup ties will be hosted at two venues – the Indian Squash Academy (ISA) and the Express Avenue (EA) Mall. While the important ties, including the knockouts, will be held at the EA Mall, a few low-key ties will take place at the ISA.

“Playing at a mall is fabulous. The Express Avenue managing director Kavita Singhania and her team have gone out of their way to support us, to give us the central atrium. We have the perfect place, the size is perfect for a squash court. We are really excited,” said Poncha.

“Every day, there will be ties at the Express Avenue. Main ties will be held there,” added Poncha. The business end of the World Junior Championships, hosted at the EA Mall, had attracted a good crowd, with fans turning up in good numbers.

Support from Tamil Nadu government: The World Cup will be sponsored by the Government of Tamil Nadu, whose sports ministry, led by Udhayanidhi Stalin, is putting in the hard yards to bring international-level competitions to the city. “We are indebted and grateful to it. The Sports Minister (Udhayanidhi) is dynamic and he wants to hold [international] events in the state. We are here to bring a world event to Chennai. We are delighted with that,” said Poncha.

India squad: Poncha revealed that Saurav Ghosal, Abhay Singh (men), Joshna Chinappa and Tanvi Khanna (women) would make up the Indian contingent. “We hope to see the Indian team put in a good performance,” Poncha went on to add. The remaining teams, barring Australia, are yet to announce their squads. Asked if the crème de la crème can be expected to make the journey to Chennai, Poncha replied: “We have to wait and see who the players are.”

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