Chinappa & Pallikal Grab Historic Commonwealth Games Gold For India
A second upset in 24 hours saw fifth seeds Joshana Chinappa & Dipika Pallikal overcome English favourites Jenny Duncalf & Laura Massaro in today’s Women’s Doubles final in Glasgow to ensure that India’s first everCommonwealth Games Squash medal is GOLD.
The underdogs led throughout the first game on the all-glass showcourt at the Scotstoun Sports Campus, winning 11-6. But the top seeds struck back in the second – Massaro, the world No2 and silver medallist in the singles competition, and Duncalf, ranked 13 in the world, soon built up a 7-2 lead.
But Chinappa and Pallikal, both based in Chennai, immediately regained the upper-hand – reeling off nine of the next 10 points to claim a sensational 11-6, 11-8 victory after 28 minutes.
“We just didn’t want to let go – if it had gone to one-all, the third would have been very tough,” said 22-year-old Pallikal, ranked a career-high 10 in the world.
“This is not just a great win for us, but for Indian Squash.”
Indian team coach Major Maniam stated that the pair played “awesome squash”.
“I think this win will take squash to another level in India – the sport won’t just be followed by enthusiasts, but will now grab the attention of the general public.”
The squash success marks India’s 14th gold medal of the Glasgow 2014 Games.
“Commonwealth Games gold medals are important in India – and squash is now a gold medal sport,” added Maniam.
When asked what makes Pallikal and Chinappa such a strong pair, Maniam continued: “They are both equally strong – there isn’t a weak link there. We have been targeting the weaker of the two players in our matches, but our two are equally balanced.
“Both have their strengths – Dipika has a fantastic deceptive trickle boast.
“They played awesome squash today – the whole country will be really proud of them.
“I have been to a number of Commonwealth Games – but this is my first medal.”
“We probably didn’t play the way we can play in yesterday’s semis – so to come back today and play the best we’ve ever played together is a real testament to us as a partnership,” said Beddoes after winning the first Games medal of her career.
“It’s the pinnacle of my career. To come away with a medal means everything to me.”
Waters also enjoyed one of the biggest days of her life, the bronze medal coming just a couple of hours after she and fellow Londoner Peter Barker clinched a place in the Mixed Doubles final for the first time after despatching No2 seeds Joelle King & Martin Knight, of New Zealand, 11-3, 11-6.
“Doubles is a very tactical game,” said Barker after the mixed win which guarantees the pair at least silver – the best achievements for both of them. “Joelle is probably the best striker of the ball in the women’s game.
“I’m delighted for myself, but more importantly for Al – especially after her injury last time and her disappointment in the singles here.
“I’m very proud of my two bronzes – but this one is for her.
“Winning in doubles is a completely different feeling – in singles it’s more relief than joy. I’ve known Al since she was a little girl and we’ve shared the same coach for many years. I’m absolutely delighted to be able to help her achieve it here.”
The 38-year-old from New South Wales partnered Rachael Grinham through to victory in the Mixed Doubles semi-finals, and a few hours later secured a place in the Men’s Doubles final.
Palmer and Grinham claimed their places in the squash history books after upsetting fellow Aussies Kasey Brown &Cameron Pilley, the top seeds and defending champions, 11-7, 11-4 – a win which guarantees both of them a record seventh Commonwealth Games medal.
“Wow! Is that right – nobody else has more than six?” said Grinham on hearing the news.
“I’m trying not to think about medals,” said Palmer. “It would have been nice if that could have been the final.
“I thought we performed well,” continued the illustrious Aussie, winner of four British Open and two World Championship titles. “Rachael dominated the forehand side, though Kasey returned so many balls. We were trying to keep it away from Cam – his power is unreal.”
Pilley’s “unreal power” worked a treat for Palmer later when the pair combined to see off England’s third seeds Daryl Selby& James Willstrop 11-4, 11-4 in the men’s semis.
The men’s triumph extends Palmer’s collection of Games medals to a new record EIGHT – but his single-minded aim is gold, which would be a first.
“It’s been a perfect day,” conceded Palmer. “I just wanted to win both matches – but to do so 2/0 in both cases, in reasonably short time, is a perfect set up.
“It was critical we didn’t get drawn into long matches.”
Pilley’s place in the men’s final compensated for his loss in the mixed semi. “I was disappointed with today’s earlier result, but very happy to make the men’s final,” said Pilley, the world No20.
On his partner Palmer, Pilley added: “He’s pretty exceptional. He’s made so many major finals and won so many major titles. He brings a steadiness to us.”
Second seeds Palmer and Pilley will face favourites Adrian Grant & Nick Matthew in Sunday’s final after the English pair, winners of gold in Delhi, subdued the packed and partisan Scottish crowd by beating Scots Alan Clyne & Harry Leitch 11-7, 11-2.
“We’ve been under the radar here but we’re quietly confident,” said Londoner Grant. “There’s been a lot of talk about the other pairings but we’ve just been getting on with our own job.
“This is the pinnacle for us,” added the left-hander when asked if it was an advantage just playing the one event. “I had to think about what I really want to get out of this – I decided I would rather put all my eggs in one basket and try to get gold in this.”
Matthew and Grant also beat the Scots, widely considered a ‘specialist doubles pairing’, at the same stage in Delhi.
“A lot of people talk about ‘doubles specialists’, but I think today we showed that you can play good squash and win,” said the world No2 from Sheffield.
Matthew is bidding to equal compatriot Peter Nicol‘s four Commonwealth Games gold medal record – also two in the singles and two in the men’s doubles.
Furthermore, he and Grant will be keen to extend England’s grip on the men’s doubles title since 1998, the year that squash made its debut in the Games.
RESULTS: Commonwealth Games Squash, Glasgow, Scotland
Women’s Doubles final:
 Joshana Chinappa & Dipika Pallikal (IND) bt  Jenny Duncalf & Laura Massaro (ENG) 11-6, 11-8 (28m)
Bronze medal play-off:
 Emma Beddoes & Alison Waters (ENG) bt  Kasey Brown & Rachael Grinham (AUS) 11-3, 11-5 (23m)
Men’s Doubles semi-finals:
 Adrian Grant & Nick Matthew (ENG) bt  Alan Clyne & Harry Leitch (SCO) 11-7, 11-2 (46m)
 David Palmer & Cameron Pilley (AUS) bt  Daryl Selby & James Willstrop (ENG) 11-4, 11-4 (32m)
Mixed Doubles semi-finals:
 Rachael Grinham & David Palmer (AUS) bt  Kasey Brown & Cameron Pilley (AUS) 11-7, 11-4 (29m)
 Alison Waters & Peter Barker (ENG) bt  Joelle King & Martin Knight (NZL) 11-3, 11-6 (35m)