Indian squash ace Saurav Ghosal has named the 2014 Asian Games as the most memorable moment in his illustrious career so far. The Indian men's squash team had won an unprecedented gold medal after Saurav Ghosal had suffered a heart-breaking loss in the finals of the individual event.
Saurav Ghosal spoke at length about his journey as a squash player, including the Indian team's exploits at the 2014 Asian Games, during an exclusive interaction with Shanivi Sadana on Sportskeeda Live.
When asked about the gold and silver medals he had won at the 2014 Asian Games, Saurav Ghosal called it the most unforgettable moment of his life. He recalled the final of the men's singles event, a match he had lost after leading by two games and being a point away from closing out the encounter.
"The 2014 Asian Games is the most memorable 8 days of my life. In the individual event I played really really well. In the final, I was 2-0 up and I had match ball but I ended up losing that match."
Saurav Ghosal revealed that he was heartbroken after the loss as he had toiled hard for it.
"It was one of those matches where I would say that neither of us deserved to lose. Both of us played really well. It is just really sad for me that I had to end up on the losing side that day. I was devastated after that as I had worked so hard for it."
Saurav Ghosal on bouncing back to win the men's team gold
Saurav Ghosal recalled defeating Abdullah Al-Muzayen in the men's team semi-finals in another five-game thriller to exact revenge for his loss in the men's singles final.
"But then to come back in the team event. I had lost to Abdullah Al-Muzayen of Kuwait in the finals of the individual event and we ended up playing Kuwait in the semis of the team event. I played him again and this time I won in five."
The 34-year-old observed that India were not the favourites against Malaysia in the men's team final, with the latter's second and third singles players expected to win their matches.
"When we played Malaysia in the final, we were not really supposed to win. I was supposed to be the one who would win but the second and third matches were really hard for us on paper."
Saurav Ghosal highlighted that Harinder Pal Sandhu had played the best match of his career to outplay the Malaysia No. 3 and give India an unexpected lead in the final.
"But at No.3, Harinder Sandhu played in my opinion the match of his life. I don't think he has played better than that ever. He went out first and I remember warming up and seeing that he was up and thinking that we have a chance. And then he lost the third game and I just hoped for him to win. And then he wins it."
Saurav Ghosal remembered being a spent force by the 4th game of his singles encounter, thereby not being able to close out the match in that game after being 2-1 up and having a couple of match balls.
"And then I remember that I went 2-1 up in the next match against Ong Beng Hee of Malaysia. And I was spent because I was playing every day for 8 days. I had two match balls again in the fourth and I ended up losing that game."
He recalled his teammates and coaches advising him on how he should be playing but his body not supporting him in the endeavour.
"In my head I was just thinking that it should not happen again. I could feel my legs burning when I came out after the 4th game. I remember Harinder and the coaches telling me to do this and that. I said that I knew what I need to do but the body is not responding."
Saurav Ghosal disclosed that the sight of his teammates during the final game had egged him on, and that he was able to clinch the decider with a score of 11-9.
"Harinder told me that it is just one game and asked me to do something. I was just looking at my teammates throught the game and wanted to push for them. It just so happened that I won 11-9 in the fifth, it couldn't have been closer."
Saurav Ghosal signed off by stating that the men's team gold at the Asian Games has been the most memorable moment of his squash career. He expressed his delight that the team gold had come on the biggest of all stages, after having come close to achieving glory at the continental level a few times before the Asian Games.
"When I won, I felt that it was like redemption. It is also very sweet because for 4 or 5 years preceding the 2014 Asian Games as a team we had come close to winning the Asian team event but we didn't."
"And to actually end up doing it as the Asian Games against the run of play, because we weren't the favourites on paper and with the individual final going the way it did, for me is definitely my most memorable moment in squash."
In the men's team event final at the 2014 Asian Games, Harinder Pal Sandhu had defeated Mohd Azlan Iskandar 11–8, 11–6, 8–11, 11–4 to give India the early lead. Saurav Ghosal then clinched the gold medal by winning the second singles encounter 6–11, 11–7, 11–6, 12–14, 11–9 against Ong Beng Hee.