Saurav Ghosal, silver medallist from the 2014 Incheon Asiad and Commonwealth Games silver medallists Joshna Chinappa and Dipika Pallikal headline India’s squash squad at the upcoming Asian Games in Indonesia, the federation announced on Saturday.
One of the most improved players in recent times, Ramit Tandon is the sole new face in the Indian men’s squad who will be defending their gold medal from the previous edition. Experience is the strength of the contingent to be spearheaded by the highest ranking Indian in Ghosal (12th in the world, the highest ranked Asian player in the world) and includes Harinder Pal Sandhu and Mahesh Mangaonkar.
As expected, Joshna Chinappa and Dipika Pallikal Karthik pick themselves automatically, being the two high performing professionals to lead India’s charge in the women’s.
On the other hand, the women’s team feature two newcomers in Tamil Nadu’s Sunayna Kuruvilla and Delhi’s Tanvi Khanna. Considering that the women’s world team championship follows the Asian Games in China (Dalian) in September, it was decided that the same (women’s) team will participate there too, the Squash Rackets Federation of India release stated.
The criteria that the SRFI adopted for selection in the men’s section was to give weightage to players who have been regulars on the professional circuit and doing well too. With five of them (Vikram Malhotra is the fifth) in this list the team composition was easy with June PSA rankings as the key parameter. As per the rankings then Saurav and Harinder as the top two, will play both the singles and team event while Ramit and Mahesh will be part of the team event.
In the women’s section, the selection was trickier. With two high performing players and high rankers, Joshna and Dipika being there, it was clear the services of these two will be utilised for singles and team events.
For the two remaining slots to fill for the team event, trials were conducted at the ISA courts in Chennai over five days from June 5. Players who had finished top four in the last nationals were invited and those who have been participating in the PSA events. Under this criteria, the players who had attended the trials were Sunayna, Tanvi, Sachika Ingale, Janet Vidhi, Aparajitha Balamurukan, Urwashi Joshi and Riya Sisodia. A few others Akanksha Salunkhe, Lakshya R and Anaka Alankamony declined the invitation while Ashita Bhengra pulled out at the last minute citing injury, SRFI stated.
The selection committee comprising, K. Rajendiran, Secretary-General, SRFI, Mr Cyrus Poncha, National Coach, SRFI, Ms Bhuvneshwari Kumari, former national champion and official, SRFI and Mr Muneer Sait, Eminent Sportsperson (Olympian) decided on the Indian contingent at a meeting at the ISA on June 9.
India won four medals at the 2014 Asian Games, with the men’s team winning gold, Saurav and Dipika winning silver and bronze in singles, while the women’s team won silver.