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Mumbai: International squash is set to return to the Cricket Club of India (CCI) after 18 years when it hosts the USD 15,000 PSA Challenger event at its glass-backed courts here from May 6 to 11.

Harinder Pal Sandhu, with a World Professional Squash Association ranking of 69, and local player Mahesh Mangaonkar, PSA-ranked 106, are the top Indian direct entrants in the 16-strong main draw of the tournament along with wild card Ravi Dixit, it was announced at a media conference here on Friday.

There would be two qualifying rounds (on May 6 and 7) and four main draw rounds. Current world number 31 Alan Clyne of Scotland is the highest ranked competitor and top seed.

Three Egyptians, including Mohd Ali Anwar Reda – who is the second highest in the draw with a world rank of 41 – three Malaysians, two Scots, one Jordanian and three Indians have got direct entry into the main draw.

Eight Indians – Kush Kumar, Rishad Pandole, Madhav Dhingra, Arjun Agnihotri, Abhinav Sinha, Abhishek Pradhan, Gaurav Nandrajog and Abhimanyu Shah – would take part in the qualifiers (May 5-7) vying to grab four spots in the 16-man main draw.

The winner of the tournament would take home 19 per cent of the total prize money (just under USD 3,000).

Rolling Nicks Squash Academy from Pune are the promoters of the tournament which former international Ritwik Bhattacharya said is going to be an annual fixture.

“Organising the squash challengers at home will help our players earn valuable points and improve their ranking. Both Sandhu and Mahesh have a good chance to win the tournament. The winner will get 250 points,” said Ritwik at the media conference.

CCI Squash Secretary Naval Pandole said it was in 1995 -96 that the club had conducted a major squash event at a specially erected glass dome on the Brabourne Stadium turf.

“Since squash has good chances of becoming an Olympic sport in 2020, such tournaments would help build up interest,” he said.

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