POSTED DAE : Dec. 1, 2016
CHENNAI: The Indian team, comprising Joshna Chinappa, Dipika Pallikal Karthik, Akanksha Salunkhe and Sunayna Kuruvilla, is leaving, in the early hours on Saturday, for Paris to take part in the World women's team squash championship to be held in the French capital from November 27 to December 3.
Unlike in the past, the team had a rigorous camp stretching to over three weeks at the Indian Squash Academy here under the watchful eyes of both National coach Cyrus Poncha and Egyptian coach Achraf El Karargui. Karargui was happy that all members showed the deserved importance to the camp. “They are all tuned up and should do well,” he said. On the last occasion in 2014 in Canada, India, which was unseeded, went on to finish 14th.
Joshna, highest ranked Indian (13 in the PSA list), said the break from the PSA tour had helped her in recouping and also in sharpening skills at the camp. She said the interaction with Karargui was helpful and felt positive vibes from the foreign coach's advices.
Poncha, who is travelling with the team along with Physio M. Dimple, said that it was nice to see the preparations but felt the challenge ahead was overwhelming. “Our first target will be to qualify for the last eight and that if achieved in itself will be exceptional,”he said.
India is seeded 9th this time but grouped along with title aspirants and top seed Egypt, higher seeded New Zealand (eight) and Mexico (13), India has a tough task ahead in aiming to finish second in the Group, which is the minimum requirement for qualifying to the last eight. As things stand, India has to beat both Mexico and New Zealand for that. On paper a win against Mexico is not an issue but Joelle King-led New Zealand is a different cup of tea. Joelle has been doing well, ranked 9th in the world and what is more won 8 out of 10 times in her meetings with Joshna. The only positive is that when the two met last in July in an International invitation meet in Malaysia, the Indian had upstaged her. Joshna will have to reproduce that form and confidence and leave Dipika, the strong number two, to display her ability to seal it off for India.
Considering only Joshna and Dipika have the experience at this level, the onus will be on them to win matches and not let a decider tie go to inexperienced Akanksha or Sunayna. But that can be easily said than done. For the moment the satisfaction is that all the players had spent some quality time in the camp. That alone reveals a touch of confidence in the side as Joshna said, “we have set qualifiction as our first goal and then take it forward from there. I had a good camp and I am also confident that Dipika will win her matches.”