Looking to squash opposition challenge

Looking to squash opposition challenge

Dipika, Joshna will lead Indian quest in Delhi

Looking to squash opposition challenge

But think twice before writing them off. Squash, to be held in the Siri Fort Sports Complex, could be one of the events along with shooting and boxing that could add to India’s medal tally in the 19th edition of the quadrennial big show. India may not have much chance for an individual medal in a field that features traditional powerhouses like England, Malaysia, Australia and Pakistan, but the host country packs a punch when it comes to team events.

Squash, which was added to the CWG competition list in the 1998 Kuala Lumpur edition, will have 15 medals at stake in singles (men, women), doubles (men, women) and mixed doubles. Indian coach Cyrus Poncha too agreed to the point that doubles events offer India a better chance to win a medal.

“Winning a medal in singles is a Herculean task, not impossible though. If a player like Sourav Ghosal or Deepika Pallikal gets a favourable draw then anything could happen. But I feel, we have a better chance in doubles events as Joshna (Chinnappa) and Dipika know each other’s game very well. So they can be a competitive pair and they also have the advantage of playing in front of home crowd,” Poncha said.

Indian squad is brimming with youth and the only notable omission is Ritwik Bhattacharya, and Poncha hoped the hard work of his wards will bear fruits in the CWG. “Boys have been training very hard for a while now, and they are all in a positive mindset ahead of the CWG,” he added.

Joshna, world number 34, too expressed confidence of bagging India’s first squash medal in the CWG. “Run-up to the CWG has been good and all of us are ready for the event,” she said. Joshna will pair with Dipika in the women’s doubles event and she hoped for a fine outing for the pair.

Joshna-Dipika pair had won an invitational tournament in Manchester early this year, and since then it has been a steady climb for the duo. “We understand our game well and we share a good rapport on and off the field. So, I hope that it works in our favour like it had worked for us in England early this year. Hopefully, we can win a medal for India in the CWG,” Joshna added.

Ghosal adopted a more realistic approach about his chances in the CWG. “I have been training and competing abroad for a while now. So, I know what it takes to play against the top players from Australia, Malaysia and England. Hopefully, I need to face them only in the later stages of the competition so that I have the necessary real match experience with me,” Ghosal said.

India will have to ward off stiff challenge from English and Aussie players to win a medal in CWG and the task is easier said than done. The star attraction in men’s category will be England’s Nick Matthew and James Willstrop, ranked second and sixth in the world respectively. “I certainly do not want to run into them in the early stages of the competition,” Ghosal added.

In the women’s section, Nicole David, world number one from Malaysia, England’s Jenny Duncaff and Australia’s Rachel Grinham will offer the Indians a big test. Canada, a rising power in the world arena to be led by Shahier Razik and Alana Miller, too might pose some tough questions to Indians. But confidence is the key word in the Indian camp.