‘Carrom is evolving, needs some recognition’
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Three years ago, Indian carrom went through a Twenty20 revolution of its own. The All India Carrom Federation decided that they needed to speed up the game to attract more sponsorship and media coverage. Instead of 15 seconds, players now only had 10 seconds to play their shots.
Indian carrom changed significantly, but not in the way that the Federation may have hoped. The sport continued to lurk in the shadows, as far as its media presence went, but many of its practitioners were thrown into an evolve-or-die situation.
"Until then, I had always taken my time to assess the board carefully and plan my shots," says Yogesh Pardeshi, winner of two World Cups, one World Championship and two World Swiss League titles. "People thought players like me and (2001 World Champion) M Nataraj were history. Lots of very good players definitely fell back."
Pardeshi has coped perfectly well. Two of his three national titles have come after the rule change, and his performances at the international level – where players still have 15 seconds to play their shots – have remained just as consistent. In 2010, at Richmond, Virginia, Pardeshi won the World Cup singles, came second in the doubles and won his second World Swiss League title. Last week, in Dhaka, he won his seventh SAARC championship.
Now, the 36-year-old is playing endless matches at home against his wife Mangal Pardeshi to prepare for his defence of the World Championship title that he won four years ago in Cannes. This year's World Championships will be held in late October in Colombo. But before that, Pardeshi will need to get through the selection trials for the Indian team, which will be conducted later this month.
"While training for a major event, you need to practice for 12 hours every day, sleep for eight hours, set aside two hours for food and exercise, and two more hours for counselling with your coaches," he says. Since 2001, when Indian Oil employed him on their sports quota, Pardeshi has managed to support this sort of schedule. Till then, he had been forced to squeeze bursts of carrom into days spent toiling away at one low-paying job after another.
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