James Willstrop had crushed long-time pal Saurav Ghosal eight out of 9 instances earlier than Wednesday, virtually all the time in a convincing style inside three video games. Both coached by Willstrop’s legendary father-coach Malcolm, know one another’s recreation just like the again of their arms. Willstrop was additionally the defending Commonwealth Games champion. Until the Indian squash No 1 lastly turned the tide of their historical past and beat the 38-year-old Englishman to take the bronze medal on the Birmingham CWG.
Ghosal’s promising profession, given credence when he received the British Junior’s title in 2004, has seen its ups and downs. He has received titles the world over however when it got here to the massive one, he all the time slipped agonisingly near his last frontier. A medal on the Commonwealth Games was, in his phrases, ‘the gloss’ lacking from his trophy cupboard. A trophy cupboard that might have been additional crammed if not for the close to misses.
BRONZE FOR SAURAV! 🥉
Our gifted Squash participant @SauravGhosal 🎾 clinches Bronze after getting previous James Willstrop of England 3-0 (11-6, 11-1, 11-4) within the Bronze medal match 🇮🇳
Way to go Saurav 🔥
— SAI Media (@Media_SAI) August 3, 2022
Three years in the past, Saurav Ghosal was in a battle with the Egyptian often called ‘Beast’. Mohamed El-Shorbagy was the present World No 2 and Ghosal was within the battle of his life on the World Championship quarter-finals. Then a 33-year-old, Ghosal had spent 15 years on the squ ash circuit and if issues went his approach, this may have been the most important fish he ever reeled in his profession.
He ended up taking El-Shorbagy to 5 video games and 85 minutes later misplaced on the softest of backhands. The last rating learn 11-5, Sep 11, Sep 11, 12-10, 10-12 but it surely was that final level within the final recreation that all the time rankled Ghosh. He later spoke about how had he hit the ball barely softer, or tougher, then his Egyptian opponent’s return would have hit the tin and that time may have modified each narrative about his profession.
Ghosal had the possibility to alter how his historical past learn as soon as once more on Tuesday when he took on one more World No 2 in New Zealand’s Peter Coll. But the lanky Kiwi was working on a unique stratosphere, combining his different worldly attain to fish out the tightest of angles whereas utilizing his superior athleticism to counter no matter Ghosal needed to supply. By the third recreation, the Indian had emptied his tank out, attempting a variation of photographs in opposition to his Kiwi conqueror. The effort had taken sufficient out of him for one to imagine that the bronze medal match in a day’s time was seemingly out of the query. Ghosal disagreed.
There can also be the historic precedent of him having misplaced his bronze medal match on the 2014 Glasgow Games – in opposition to Willstrop besides. But that elusive singles title that he had been chasing for years lastly landed right here in Birmingham.
Winning a singles medal on the Commonwealth Games has been the one aim that was Ghosh’s last frontier. His confidence going into the 2018 Gold Coast occasion was sky excessive. Talking about his preparations, Ghosal had instructed journalists on the time that he was scheduling his occasions earlier than the Games in such a way that he would get per week or two’s value of relaxation earlier than pushing his physique once more. But a shock exit within the first spherical meant that his dream of successful a Commonwealth medal was trying bleak.
Cut to 4 years later and the leadup to those Birmingham Games has been subdued. Older now, Ghosal silently went by the sphere, easing previous Sri Lanka’s Shamil Wakeel 11-4, 11-4, 11-6. His first match of the CWG was an ideal warm-up session – a three-game fast turnaround that allowed him to preserve vitality for more durable rounds later into the event.
Ghosal then caught to the script, beating the Canadian National champion and World No 62 David Baillargeon 11-6, 11-2. 11-6. It was solely within the Round-of-16 in opposition to Greg Lobban that he lastly dropped a recreation. But the World No 34 from Scotland needed to succumb as his 35-year-old compatriot continued his march in the direction of the medals, culminating in a semi-final match in opposition to Coll.
After the loss to Coll, Ghosal went into the bronze medal match drained and damaged however pulled out all of the stops in opposition to Willstrop. This isn’t the Willstrop of outdated as effectively. Turning 39 this summer time, the Englishman has seen higher days and his reactions to Ghosal’s photographs, significantly on the forehand aspect, have been telling.
On the side-lines of his epic victory Ghosal acknowledged the second. He went right into a nook and wept. A number of moments later he scaled the barricades and hugged his spouse. He even acknowledged Willstrop’s affect in his life when he mentioned, “He’s my best friend in life but to do it at this stage, winning India’s first individual Commonwealth Games medal…”. Ghosal lastly obtained the gloss he so hard-earned.