Team for the Asian Games

N. Ramachandran, secretary general of the SRFI and a member of the selection committee that selected the team for the Asiad clarified issues during his chat with Deccan Chronicle.
DC: There is a common belief that the selection process is autocratic, what is your take on this and who constitutes the selection committee?
N. Ramachandran: Selection is based purely on merit. Performance is the sole criterion for getting the nod. National coach Cyrus Poncha, Major Maniam, Srivatsan Subramaniam and myself constitute the national selection committee and our methods have always been transparent and there is no question of any bias.

DC: The general consensus is that national number two Dipika Pallikal has been denied a chance to play in the Asian Games can you explain this?
NR: We at SRFI looked carefully at each player’s medal prospects before suggesting their name to the Indian Olympic Association. Dipika does not stand a chance to finish in the medal bracket; she is hardly 15 and has a long way to go before competing in the senior category. Dipika was beaten soundly in the Asian championship held in Chinese Taipei in the second round and that was a fair indication as to where she stands among the seniors. The national coach felt Dipika should concentrate on the British Open juniors to be held in January where she stands a realistic chance of winning the tournament. The selectors felt there is no point in sending passengers to the Asian Games and that would only dent the confidence of the player.

DC: The nationals that concluded recently were seen as the selection tournament for the Asian Games but Gaurav Nandrajog who beat Ritwik Bhattacharya in the semifinal has also not been included. What was the reason for his exclusion?
NR: The nationals were only one of the many criteria for selection. Ritwik’s track record is impeccable, we cannot deny a player of his class a berth in the Asian Games just because he had one bad at the office. The very next week he thrashed Nandrajog in three easy games. He is our highest ranked player with a PSA ranking of 41. Nandrajog has been rewarded for reaching the national final. We have named him as the non-traveling reserve for the Games. If Sourav Ghosal or Ritwik are unable to participate in the Asiad Nandrajog would replace them.

DC: With the given team, what are India’s medal prospects?
NR: Joshna should reach the last eight without ado and it is a question of a couple of good days from there. Ritwik and Sourav are both in fine form and training hard at the moment, they would be facing stiff competition but I am confident they would do well. To be realistic one medal from squash would be a huge step forward

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About Cyrus Poncha
I was born and lived in Bombay before moving to Chennai in 2001 to coach the Indian national squash team....what a journey its been!!

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