England lose first match, but win 2-1 to retain title

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Chennai, Dec 12 (UNI) Reigning champions England outplayed Australia 2-1 and retained the title in the 21 ICL world men's squash team championship at the ICL academy here today.

Eight time title winner Australia seemed set to upset England the top seeded team with their no 1 player David Palmer finding his rhythm quickly in the first singles against England's no2 Nick Mathew 11-9, 11-9. Both fought hard with little separating the two, till the first nine points. But Mathew capitalised on Palmer's errors in the next two to win 11-7, 2-11. But the Aussie, benefitting from Nick's loss of concentration contesting referee's ruling on 'let's and 'strokes', took the decisive fifth game up 9-1 and 10-4. The Aussies stole a 1-0 lead.

However, the contest took a different turn with England's James Willstrop, their no 1 player against Australia's Stewart Boswell, ranked no 2. the boyish looking Aussie could not match Willstrop's guile playing the big points . Willstrop won 11-7, 11-8, 13-10.

The Aussies caved in completely as in the crucial third singles Cameron Pilley despite forcing some long rallies could not match England no 4 player Scott Arnold. Arnold settled the issue in England's favour winning 11-6, 11-8 in straight games.

''It's always edgy in team championships, we are happy we could win finally'', England's coach said after the victory.

Palmer said England could triumph as it is a closely knit team. ''We were nervous and under tremendous pressure. But we made it'', he observed.

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