Asian Squash C’ship: Referees again in the firing line

In the heat of the battle, both - Joshna Chinappa and Dipika Pallikal - were seen venting their ire on the referees.

Joshna Chinappa called the referee a cheat but later apologised for her comment.   -  M.VEDHAN

The stage, the setting and the intensity of the battle in the women’s final at the 19th Asian Individual Squash Championship reminded one of that unforgettable quarterfinal match between Joshna Chinappa and Dipika Pallikal during the Incheon Asian Games in 2014. Body-blocks ( way too many of them), that extra ounce of aggression, frayed tempers over refereeing calls, the five-game roller-coaster saw it all. But it threw up a different winner as Joshna gave India its first gold medal in the Asian Championship.

If the 2014 Games soured the relationship between two close friends, the final at the Express Avenue mall kept their friendship intact. They kicked up a storm inside the glass court with some ferocious play but followed it up by dusting off the old debate on the refereeing standards in the Asian Championship.

During the course of the final, both the players were often seeing venting their ire on the referees for a let call gone wrong or a badly adjudged point.

Explaining about the fracas between the referee and the players during the match, Dipika said, “Now I think I say this at every tournament. Players are improving the game but the referees have no clue what’s happening in the court. A lot of people will say the same that too. Today was just so [bad] ... I didn’t react so much the way I would have liked to,” Dipika said.

On Sunday, surprisingly, Dipika showed more restraint but Joshna admitted to have called the referee a ‘cheat’ during one such dubious call.

“I did say he was a cheat. I apologised to the referee as well. In the third game, the ball was down and she actually walked off but I played the ball because the referee didn't call it. The last point was a stroke as well and the referee gave it as a let. Both the points were mine. That's why I told the referee he was cheating,” the 30-year-old newly crowned Asian champion said.

“I later apologised to him and he understood because he knew he had got it wrong. I don't talk to the referee unless I'm absolutely right."

"There are many calls which went against me and against Dipika as well. It was both ways as well.

“I didn't agree with a lot of the calls that happened. I tried to play a game where I didn't need to involve the referees that much. Well, that's what I tried in the last two games,” Joshna said, nailing home her views on referees.

“I fortunately don't have to deal with it a lot of the time. I play on the professional tour more than I play in the Asian Championship, which is only once every two years," she said.