Commonwealth Games: India squash stars eye to break singles' jinx
The trio of Dipika Pallikal, Joshna and Saurav have been carrying the Indian team on their shoulders for the last 15 years.
Aiming for that elusive singles Commonwealth Games medal, Saurav Ghosal and Joshna Chinappa will make one last-ditch effort to break the jinx even as the Indian squash contingent, packed with country's best performers, has landed in Birmingham with a target to earn podium places in all categories.
The trio of Dipika Pallikal, Joshna and Saurav have been carrying the Indian team on their shoulders for the last 15 years. Heading towards the end of their glorious careers, all three are working overtime to give their all in their fourth and probably last Commonwealth Games.
Indian players have managed to win only three medals since the sport's introduction to the Commonwealth Games in 1998. One of them was the path-breaking gold medal won by the celebrated duo of Joshna and Dipika Pallikal in the Glasgow edition eight years ago. They return to the UK as favourites to win the women's doubles title, having won the world title earlier this year.
Now a mother of twins, Dipika had also won the mixed doubles title alongside Ghosal at the World Doubles Championship in April to complete a sensational comeback. Barring Egypt, all top squash playing nations, including England, are part of the Commonwealth.
India have so far drawn a blank in singles but Joshna and Ghosal will be making one final push to change that record. Dipika has not yet resumed playing singles after comeback from motherhood.
"Hope so," said Ghosal when asked if 2022 was India's best chance of winning a singles medal. "We have come leaps and bounds since we started playing 20 years black. We all have progressed as players. Everyone is in with a shot in all the categories. The execution will happen over the course of the next two weeks. "The CWG has always had a strong field. Winning medal is a big deal here. "
Ghosal was seeded third in the previous edition but made an early exit. He is not thinking too much about his opponents as that puts additional pressure.
"I am not looking at the draw. That is where I got it wrong last time. Just trying to take it one day a time and get myself through to the medal round."
The Indians trained with former world number one Gregory Gaultier in Chennai for a week before leaving for Birmingham.
The 14-year-old Anahat Singh has attracted a lot of attention after her selection in the women's team. Her performance too will be keenly followed. She emerged champion in the girls Under-15 category at the Asian Juniors Squash Championship last month. So far, Anahat has won 46 national circuit titles, two national circuit titles, two national championships and eight international titles. She is the only Indian girl to win the US Junior Open in any category and the British Junior Open.
The other CWG debutants include Sunyana Kuruvilla, Abhay Singh and V Senthilkumar.
Men's: Saurav Ghosal, Ramit Tandon, Abhay Singh
Women Singles: Joshana Chinappa, Sunyana Kuruvilla, Anahat Singh
Women's Doubles: Dipika Pallikal/Joshna Chinappa
Mixed Doubles: Saurav Ghosal/Dipika Pallikal, Ramit Tandon/Joshana Chinappa
Men's Doubles: Ramit Tandon/Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu, Velavan Senthilkumar / Abhay Singh.