Joshana Chinappa and Dipika Pallikal combined brilliantly to clinch gold in the womens doubles final and give India their first squash medal in the Commonwealth Games after the pair outplayed Jenny Duncalf and Laura Massaro of England in Glasgow on Saturday.
The fifth-seeded Indian pair made short work of their English opponents with a 11-6 11-8 win in the best-of-three game final.
The Indians though looked in some trouble in Game 2 when they trailed 7-2 at one point, but some incredible drop shots from Dipika and Joshana made the win look easy in the end.
Duncalf and Massaro were no match for the absolutely in-sync pair of Joshana and Dipika, who moved rhythmically in the glass show court at the Scotstoun Campus Squash arena.
The English duo played traditional squash with no variety at all and played the doubles match with a ‘singles’ mindset against the Indian players, which seems to have mastered the doubles game.
Duncalf and Massaro had settled for silver in the 2010 edition of the Games in Delhi.
England though took consolation from the fact that Alison Waters and Emma Beddoes thrashed Kasey Brown and Rachael Grinham of Australia to take bronze and keep the nation firmly atop the medals tally.
India stay fifth with their gold count improving to 14 and the overall tally to 55 (25 silver and 16 bronze).
Joshana admitted that they always respected their opponents and took one game at a time.
“We were always taking it one match at a time because all the players are really good. A lot of them have been medallists previously,” said Joshana after the win.
Joshana also spoke about the tough second game and their reluctance to see the match get into the third and final game.
“I don’t think we started very strong and they really took advantage of that. They had some great shots and we had a few errors but we really didn’t want to go to a third game and we switched back on,” she added.
Joshana also hopes that this gold will help the sport flourish in India.
“Hopefully this will bring more recognition to squash in India. It’s definitely growing leaps and bounds but hopefully now, winning a medal, the government will be that much more excited about the sport as well,” she said.
Glasgow has been a different experience for many Indian athletes, who had the cushion of competing at home in the last edition in Delhi 2010.
“Aside from winning the medal, which is obviously the highlight of everything, from the time we got here we’ve been really comfortable. Everyone has been really great to us. The atmosphere in the village has been superb, so overall it has been a fantastic experience being here,” Joshana concluded.
Dipika also spoke about holding their nerve in the second game when they lagged behind the English opponents.
“We were 7-2 down in the second game but we still had the belief that we could do it and we never wanted to let go of any point. And I guess that is what made the difference. We could have come out 1-1 and a third game would have been very tough.
“We are just glad we did it and we had a lot of confidence in the second,” said Dipika.
“I think just the desire (kept us going). We have come so far that we didn’t want to settle for silver. We don’t like silver; we like only gold. I don’t think it has sunk in yet.”
Dipika said that the victory will certainly help give squash a push in India.
“We are really excited, not only for us but for Indian squash in general. We have been in the shadows for a very long time and hopefully this can open up to a lot of girls,” she said.