JAKARTA: Video analysis and scouting play a key role in modern sport. SWOT studies are routinely done by elite teams to find chinks in the opposition. The Indian squash contingent, who will leave Jakarta with five medals (1S, 4B), have not done much of this since foreign coach Ashraf El Karagui left after a misunderstanding with Squash Rackets Federation of India (SRFI).
Its importance in 2018 was laid bare as the Hong Kong women’s team comfortably beat India 2-0 to take gold in the final on Saturday. “I think it’s a wake-up call for squash in India,” Dipika said after the encounter. She was happy with the number of medals the players have picked up but insisted that if they are to change the colour of the medals, a foreign coach, or just a coach, will have to be hired sooner rather than later. “Every player has made it clear to the federation that we need a coach, someone who will come in with new ideas. We need a coach. Full stop.
“In the last one-and-a-half years the Hong Kong and Malaysian coaches, along with their analysts, have all come and sat during our matches to take notes of what to do and what not to do. If you want to win gold, you need to go that extra mile.”
India’s Sunayna Kuruvilla and Joshna Chinappa certainly played like two individuals who could have done with some help from coaches who take pride in studying their opponents all year round. After Sunayna, the team’s No 3, lost to Tze Lok Ho, her opposite number in four games, the latter went down to Annie Au in straight games. Au, a familiar foe for Joshna on Tour, told Express what the strategy was. “Joshna and I usually play long matches. Today, the planning was to see whether I could win the first game in no time.”
The southpaw executed that plan to perfection with her dizzying command of geometry.
The Indian admitted she was just too good on the day. “I didn’t have much of an answer to a lot of her shots,” the 32-year-old said. “I wasn’t as consistent as I could have been. Annie put me under pressure from the very beginning and she was very clinical. I made some errors which gave her a much bigger lead than she should have had.”
Joshna was a bit more diplomatic on the whole coach issue. “That’s a fully loaded question (on whether there is something you wish to tell the federation which will help you guys go to the next level after two silver in this meet). You know what, I don’t know whether now is the right time to answer it because it will take away from the fact that we have just won a silver. Let’s leave it for the time being and come back to it sometime later.”
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Squash fans in India weren’t able to follow live action of the final as the Indonesia Asian Games Organising Committee (INASGOC) had decided against broadcasting it live. INASGOC had apparently taken the decision after ascertaining that the locals wouldn’t be too interested in watching the sport. There was only one official camera, for the highlights package later.