Gold Coast (Australia) (AFP) – Indian sporting celebrity Dipika Pallikal is hoping to put cricket in the shade back home by successfully defending her Commonwealth Games squash title — even if it upsets her cricketer husband.
The 26-year-old star, who is married to Indian cricket star Dinesh Karthik, made history in Glasgow four years ago when she won doubles gold with partner Joshna Chinappa — India’s first medal in the sport.
Her wedding in 2015 was splashed across national media and made Pallikal a household name, although she made headlines by declaring she hated cricket.
“I said that because I feel that every other sport is getting overshadowed by cricket,” said Pallikal after arriving in Gold Coast to defend her title.
“It’s kind of hard to try and concentrate on my career, as well as my husband’s. We’re all athletes and all have to be treated equally.”
The hope of squash overshadowing her husband’s sport is likely to be a forlorn one in cricket-mad India.
But Pallikal, whose jet-setting lifestyle is followed by 255,000 users on Instagram, insists she doesn’t follow cricket.
“There’s a lot more media, a lot more attention that comes with cricket and I now get it because I’m married to (a cricketer),” she said.
“For both of us, we’re just trying to enjoy what we’re doing right now. But to be honest I never watch him play.”
Pallikal will receive a first-round bye in the Commonwealth Games singles competition before opening her campaign against Charlotte Knaggs of Trinidad and Tobago on Thursday.
In the doubles, she and Chinappa are seeded third and grouped alongside Wales, Pakistan and Malta as they chase back-to-back titles.
Pallikal will also compete in the mixed doubles with Saurav Ghosal.