Name: Saurav Ghosal
Category: Men's singles and Mixed doubles
Past CWG performance: 4th place finish at 2014 Glasgow edition
Best performance: Asian Games 2014 Gold (Men's team) and Silver (Men's singles)
Saurav Ghosal is a name that has been synonymous with Indian squash since 2003. A record 12-time National champion, Ghosal, has been the flag-bearer for squash in a country that considers the racquet sport to be 'elite'.
Ghosal, Joshna Chinappa and Dipika Pallikal Karthik have been the mainstay of Indian squash for over a decade now.
Though their longevity is commendable, it also brings to the fore the nature of the sport in our country and the system's failure to produce players who are championship material in the past decade.
Ghosal himself was the answer to a question posed in the mid 2000s — 'What next for Indian squash after Ritwik Bhattacharya?' What next after Saurav Ghosal is a question that has no answers yet.
However, these issues will take a backseat, albeit temporarily, when the Indian contingent begins their Commonwealth Games campaign at Gold Coast in a few days.
India's squash players first made it to the Commonwealth Games in 2002 (when Bhattacharya made the cut), but the country had to wait 12 more years to win their first medal.
Ghosal made his CWG debut in 2010, where he bowed out to eventual bronze medallist Peter Barker in the third round. In the mixed doubles event, he paired up with Chinappa to reach the quarter-finals before they were beaten by bronze medal-winning Malaysian pair of Nicol David and Ong Beng Hee.
In the next edition at Glasgow in 2014, Ghosal made further inroads into the event. In men's doubles, he partnered with Harinder Pal Sandhu and made a brisk start to the tournament but was shown the door in the Round of 16.
However, it was in the singles event that Ghosal made great strides as he went agonisingly close to becoming the first Indian man to win a medal at the CWG. He went down fighting in the bronze medal match against Barker, who had beaten him in the previous edition too.
Though India won their first-ever medal in squash at the CWG with the doubles pairing of Chinappa and Pallikal Karthik winning gold at the 2014 event, the quest for a singles medal continues.
The Arjuna awardee, who overcame a career-threatening ankle injury in 2016, is still India's best bet at Gold Coast where he has decided to compete in both singles and mixed doubles (with Pallikal Karthik). Ghosal started off this year by winning the Indian Open and the CCI International PSA Tour titles.
With his current career-high ranking of 13, Ghosal is the third seed in the CWG and will start as one of the favorites in the singles division alongside two-time champion Nick Matthew and Paul Coll. In the mixed doubles, the pairing of Pallikal Karthik-Ghosal are the fifth seeds.
Ghosal is someone who has been credited with a few firsts in Indian squash history. He was the first Indian to be ranked junior World No 1 and the first squash player to bag a hat-trick of junior National titles. He was also the first Indian silver medallist in squash at the Asian Games (he was also the first-ever Indian to win a medal in squash at this prestigious event).
Ghosal's quarter-final appearance at the World Championships was India's first appearance at this level in the biggest squash tournament.
For someone who has broken a lot of barriers in squash for the country, it would be poetic justice if Ghosal could do one better and become the first Indian man to win that elusive medal at the Commonwealth Games in the 2018 edition at Gold Coast.
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Updated Date: Apr 03, 2018 21:57:20 IST