Pallikal pulls out but still harbours hopes | other | Hindustan Times
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Pallikal pulls out but still harbours hopes

India, hoping to make its biggest impact yet on women's squash, suffered a blow on Monday when the promising Dipika Pallikal pulled out before a ball was struck.

other Updated: Oct 04, 2010 15:59 IST

India, hoping to make its biggest impact yet on women's squash, suffered a blow on Monday when the promising Dipika Pallikal pulled out before a ball was struck.

Pallikal, a 19-year-old from Chennai who is pushing close to the world's top 30, had been expected to make the last 16, but must now hope to recover in time for the doubles events in the second half of the Games.

"She has a mild fever," said Indian head coach Cyrus Poncha. "I hope she will be ready for the women's and mixed doubles, for she is a key member of the doubles squads.

"She was seeded 14th and a good run in the singles would have been nice, and would at least have given her good match practice. Now we must hope she gets well quickly."

Later Peter Barker and Daryl Selby, two Englishmen, became the first serious medal contenders to make progress.

The third-seeded Barker, who won the deciding match in the 2007 world team final in Chennai, celebrated his return to India by overcoming Kelvin Ndhlovu of Zambia in straight games.

His fourth-seeded compatriot Selby also won in straight games, by 11-2, 11-1, 11-2 against Michael Rucklinger of Papua New Guinea.

Meanwhile Khaalija Nimji set a record by being the youngest squash player ever to play in the Commonwealth Games despite suffering from bouts of homesickness.

The 12-year-old from Nairobi recently became the Kenyan national champion and was rewarded with her history-making trip to Delhi, though she was beaten 11-0, 11-3, 11-1 by Nicolette Fernandes, the world number 27 from Guyana.

"I was very excited, especially as I'm so young," Nimji said. It was a great experience - Nicolette is a very good player.

"She really plays great shots. I tried my best but I just coundn't do it. She's the best player I have ever played."

Her ambition, Nimji concluded by saying, was to play Nicol David and become world number one.