New Delhi: Top squash player Dipika Pallikal will compete in the Senior National Championship, to be held in July, for the first time in five years after her stand was vindicated with the organisers deciding to have equal prize money for the premier domestic tournament.

Dipika Pallikal
Dipika Pallikal

Championship Director Niraj Shirgaokar confirmed to PTI that the Nationals will have equal prize money in the men's and women's category with the winners getting Rs 1.25 lakh each.

Pallikal had boycotted the nationals demanding equal prize money after winning the title in 2011 when her India teammate Joshna Chinappa was injured.

"I look forward to playing the nationals again. My stand (for equal prize money) was not just about me but for the entire women's squash fraternity. Nowadays, you have more and more international events offering equal prize money. So, it is good that the national federation (SRFI) too has decided to
have equal prize money," World No 18 Pallikal told PTI today.

Confirming the development, Shirgaokar said,"Equal prize money is a contentious issue the world over but there are events which offer equal prize money. I welcome SRFI's decision to have the same prize money for men and women."

Women demanding equal wages is not only confined to squash. They are paid the same as men in all four Tennis Grand Slam events but significantly less in WTA circuit.

PSA, the professional body for squash, has recently made a conscious to have equal prize money. The World Series Finals in Dubai last month had equal prize money of USD 160,000 each.

Pallikal's return is likely to generate more interest in the nationals scheduled in Mumbai from July 12-17. The most anticipated clash in the women's singles will be between Pallikal and her longtime teammate Joshna Chinappa, who is currently India's highest-ranked player at 11.

Joshna, a 14-time winner at nationals, too welcomed SRFI's move. "Playing the nationals has never been about prize money for me. It is something I have to be part of every year. But it is nice to have equal prize money. Why should it not be?" she asked.