The show-court for squash at the newly-built Siri Fort Complex is the only saving grace of the “test event” ahead of the Commonwealth Games scheduled in October.
Work is still in progress inside and outside the sprawling complex. Make-shift wooden partitions, painted right to make it appear like concrete walls, were firmly in place. In short, the effort to camouflage the unfinished job was in full swing.
Competition Manager Manan Mashruwala was particularly worried about the demand for enhanced lighting (a minimum of 2200 lux is demanded) to felicitate television coverage.
At the 10 side courts, once the overhead lights were switched on to please the television crew, the players understandably had difficulty in sighting the high ball. Mashruwala, himself a former player, was quick to see the predicament and refused to enhance the lighting on the show courts that witnessed the quarterfinal clashes.
All this while, the soft-spoken and articulate Mashruwala was concentrating on all aspects concerned with the field of play during this test event. But he was clearly apprehensive about the readiness of the rest-rooms ahead of the Commonwealth Games.
“In this event, since the number is small, rest rooms are not a problem but I am worried about how things will be during the Games,” he said.
When asked about the non-availability of the leading Indian names for this test event, Mashruwala said, “as you are aware, the Asian championship could not be held here in May because this facility was far from ready.
Since the Organising Committee of the Commonwealth Games insisted that all test events had to end in July, the SRFI had no choice but to hold this event on these days when our players are away.”
Commenting on India's prospects in the Commonwealth Games, Mashruwala was candid in admitting that the host had no realistic chance of a medal in the singles. Striking an optimistic note, he said, “we have a good chance to win medals in the two doubles events.”
Meanwhile, the available field here, barring a few promising names like Harinder Pal Sandhu and Jangra brothers, Vikas and Sandeep, lacked depth. Therefore, it did not come as a surprise when expected results followed on the opening day. Among the ladies, Harshit Kaur and Vishrutyi Sahni won with ease.
The results: Men (quarterfinals): Harinder Pal bt Aditya Advani 11-7, 11-8, 11-3; Karm Kumar bt Amjad Khan 11-5, 9-11, 9-11, 11-6, 14-12; Vikas Jangra bt Askhit Gupta 11-7, 11-8, 11-9; Sandeep Jangra bt Shakir Hussain 11-5, 11-4, 11-7.