Ghosal, Tandon inspire India to first-ever gold at Asian Team Squash - Hindustan Times
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Ghosal, Tandon inspire India to first-ever gold at Asian Team Squash

ByRutvick Mehta, Mumbai
Nov 04, 2022 09:06 PM IST

The men’s team had previously lost the final thrice (the women won gold in 2012)—against Malaysia last year and Pakistan in 2012 and 1981.

Down 0-1 with Saurav Ghosal trailing 1-2 in the second tie of the best-of-three semi-final against Malaysia on Thursday, the Indian men’s squash team stared at the familiar territory of being unable to go all the way at the Asian Team Squash Championships.

India win gold at Asian Team Squash Championships(Twitter/Saurav Ghosal)
India win gold at Asian Team Squash Championships(Twitter/Saurav Ghosal)

Except this time, they did. After Ghosal rallied to edge past the 23rd-ranked Eain Yow Ng 3-2, Ramit Tandon defeated Addeen Idrakie 3-1 to halt the Malaysian march in Cheongju, South Korea. In the final on Friday, the two turned up again to deliver a 2-0 victory over Kuwait and a first gold medal for the Indian men’s team from the biennial event. Tandon and Ghosal were equally clinical in their 3-0 wins over Ali Alramezi (11-5, 11-7, 11-4) and Ammar Altamimi (11-9, 11-2, 11-3), respectively.

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The men’s team had previously lost the final thrice (the women won gold in 2012)—against Malaysia last year and Pakistan in 2012 and 1981.

Sailing through unbeaten in a "tough pool"—as Ghosal described it—with Qatar, Pakistan, Kuwait, Korea and Chinese Taipei, the top-seeded Indians found themselves in a hole against Malaysia after Abhay Singh's opening defeat. Ghosal, turning it around against Yow 11-9, 3-11, 8-11, 11-7, 11-9, pulled them out before Tandon pushed them over the line and towards the most prominent team triumph after the 2014 Asian Games gold.

“We were very close to going out, but we did well as a team to get through that,” world No 15 Ghosal said. “Overall, it was a good campaign. Super proud to have won it for the first time. It’s great for me personally, the team and Indian squash.”

It checks another box in the list of firsts from a memorable season for Ghosal. Add this gold to the singles semi-final showing at the prestigious Tournament of Champions, World Doubles Championships mixed doubles gold and a much sought-after Commonwealth Games singles medal (bronze).

“This is something I’ve always wanted to do—win gold medals at team events for India. It’s a different feeling. This happens every two years, so I don’t know if I will have another one in me,” said the 36-year-old, pleased about his body responding well to the tough schedule that comprised two group ties a day for the first two days. “This (gold) wasn’t in my cabinet, so that helped push me a little. The CWG will forever be special. This medal is a good addition to that list.”

It’s also a reflection of the steadily increasing depth in Indian squash. Apart from Ghosal and Tandon, the men's squad had Abhay Singh and Velavan Senthilkumar, both aged 24. The women's team, sans Joshna Chinappa comprising Tanvi Khanna (age 26), Sunanya Kuruvilla (23), Anahat Singh (14) and Urwashi Joshi (27), secured a bronze, losing to Malaysia in the semi-finals.

“Indian squash is in a better place than when I started; we’ve shown that not just in this tournament but over the last few years. We’ve gone into every team event knowing we have a shot at winning it,” Ghosal said. “The likes of me or Joshna are not going to be around forever. So there have to be people coming behind us to carry it forward.”

The gold also puts the men's team in good stead for next year's Asian Games, where it won a bronze in 2018. “We won this, great; we created history, brilliant. But one year from now it’ll be a different tournament and we need to prepare well and execute to our potential. And hopefully, we will win it again for India at the Asian Games.”

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