Chennai, Dec 5: The absence of one of their star players, world number 8 Karim Darwish and Ramy Ashour notwithstanding, Egypt start favourites while India would have to cross swords with traditional sporting rivals Pakistan in the same pool, as the curtain goes upon the 21st edition of the world team squash championships to be held at the sponsor India Cements Limited (ICL) squash academy courts here from tomorrow to December 12.
Addressing a press conference here host Squash Rackets Federation of India (SRFI) President N Ramachandran said 29 teams will be in the fray fielding some of the best singles players in the sport with England fighting to defend their title and Egypt last year's runner up snapping at their heels to snatch the title which they had last won in 1999.
Pakistan, the home of former legends like Jehangir Khan and Jansher Khan, is fielding a young team, according to their coach.
Pakistan are building up a team to raise their stature back to where it belongs, he added.
India, whose challenge would be spearheaded by national champion Saurav Ghosal and the experienced Ritwik Bhattacharya, are hoping to put up a decent performance. '' You need not be surprised if we pull out a few upsets'', Saurav and Ritwik said, adding the team would try their best.
The teams have been divided into eight pools for the league phase from which the top two will qualify for the second stage.
The following are the poolings: Pool A Egypt, Finland, Germany, Russia, Pool B England, Hong Kong, Spain, Pool C France, Japan, USA, Venezuela, Pool D: Australia, New Zealand, Scotland, Pool E Kuwait, Malaysia,South Africa, Sri Lanka, Pool F Austria, Canada, Ireland, Pool G Bermuda, India, Kenya, Pakistan, Pool H Netherlands, Sweden, Chinese Taipei, Wales. The top 16 teams have beeen put in the pools based on their seedings in the world.
The matches will be played over best of five games with three singles matches. The top 3 players in each team will figure in the contests. All the teams will play till the last position.