Ghosal`s Asiad bronze highlight of Indian Squash`s 2010

Last Updated: Dec 26, 2010, 14:08 PM IST

New Delhi: In a year that witnessed two sporting spectacles in the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games, Indian squash had some hits as well as misses with the
country`s highest-ranked player Saurav Ghosal winning the
second Asiad bronze medal of his career in Guangzhou.

The 2006 Doha Asian Games bronze medallist waged a grim
battle against top-seed Mohammad Azlan Iskandar of Malaysia in
the semifinals of the men`s singles squash event before losing
the match in four games and settling for bronze.

Indian men`s and women`s teams also settled for bronze
medals in the team event of the quadrennial event after losing
to Pakistan and Malaysia respectively in the semifinals.

The Indian men`s team comprising Ghosal, Siddharth Suchde
and Harinder Pal Sandhu lost 0-2 to top-seed and arch-rivals
Pakistan while the trio of Joshna Chinappa, Anaka Alankamony
and Dipika Pallikal went down to fancied Malaysia with an
identical scoreline in the women`s event.

India could not win a medal in the women`s singles event
as Chennai girls Pallikal and Chinappa fought their hearts out
but eventually ran out of steam against top-ranked Malaysians
in the quarterfinals to bow out of the individual competition.

In the Commonwealth Games here in October, Indian
racqueters once again failed to break the jinx of not having
won any medal ever since the introduction of the sport in the
quadrennial event in 1998.

The notable omission of former India number one Ritwik
Bhattacharya from the final squad made the task a lot harder
for the Indian contingent in both singles and doubles event
where the field comprised of England, Malaysia and Australia,
considered to be traditional powerhouses in the sport.

India`s hopes of winning its first medal also received a
severe blow when country`s top female player Pallikal pulled
out of the women`s and mixed doubles events due to mild fever
which she had developed before the start of the October 3-14
event.

Pallikal, world ranked 29th, was to partner her Chennai
team-mate Chinappa in the women`s doubles and Ghosal in the
mixed doubles event.

In the singles event, the Indian challenge came to an end
at the pre-quarterfinal stage after national champion Ghosal
went down 1-3 to Englishman Peter Barker in the men`s event
while Chinappa lost 0-3 to world number one Nicol David of
Malaysia in the women`s category.

Other Indian men`s players Harinder Pal Sandhu and
Siddharth Suchde became the second round casualty while the
women`s event saw the downfall of Anwesha Reddy, Surbhi Misra
and Anaka Alankamony.

In the men`s and women`s doubles events, racqueters
exited by the pre-quarterfinal stage.
In the PSA and WISPA tour events, Pallikal showed immense
maturity and talent despite being just 19 and impressed by
clinching the maiden tour title of her career in April.

Pallikal, participating in the USD 8,000 WISPA Indian
challenger no 5 in Kolkata, came up with a stupendous show
against England`s Emma Beddoes in the summit clash to
celebrate her second appearance in a WISPA tour final with
a maiden win.

She defeated Malaysia`s Sharon Wee, compatriot Alankamony
and England`s Zephanie Curgeven en-route her title triumph.

She also won the USD 10,900 Nepal Open in Kathmandu
defeating Kylie Lindsay of New Zealand 3-1. In the Zack
Swedish Open in Sweden, Pallikal had extended her valiant run
till the semifinals of the prestigious world tour event.

Pallikal also made it to the final of the USD 11,600
Saad Al Sabah International Open in Kuwait in June. In Qatar
Classic last month, Pallikal managed to reach the
pre-quarterfinal stage before losing to England`s Massaro in
straight games.

In the year ending Punj Lloyd WISPA Masters, Pallikal
made it to the quarterfinal before losing 2-3 to Kasey Brown
of Australia in the USD 36,500 championship.

For Kolkata-born Ghosal, barring his Asiad bronze medal
triumph, the year remained largely forgettable, as he failed
to win even a single title at the national or international
level.

For Ghosal, ranked 22nd in the world, 2010 didn`t yield
any good results as barring his semifinal appearances in the
Chennai Open in March and PSA Indian Challenger No 7 in April
in Kolkata, and quarterfinal visibility in ROWE British Grand
Prix in Manchester, he failed to get past even the second
round of the 12 international tournaments that he played
this year.

For the 24-year-old world number 36 Chinappa, the year
did not pay any rich dividends as she managed to win only one
international title while making semifinal appearances in
three championships.

Chinappa won the German Ladies Open in Saarbrucken
defeating Switzerland`s Gaby Schmohi in the summit clash.

She reached the semifinals of WISPA Indian Challenger No
4 in Chennai, Chairman`s Cup in Hong Kong and Heliopolis Open
in Cairo.

PTI

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