Gold in women’s doubles in 2014, and silver in women’s doubles and mixed doubles in 2018 — these were the performances at the Commonwealth Games that the Indian squash contingent was trying to take inspiration from and build on in Birmingham.
The campaign started on a high for the Indian team with its youngest member — 14-year-old Anahat Singh — winning her first match on Commonwealth Games debut. For the next few days, the contingent’s hopes were pinned on veteran Saurav Ghosal who was the only Indian player in the singles semifinals to assure India of a first Commonwealth Games singles medal in squash.
Saurav was pitted against 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medallist and former training partner James Wilstrop in the bronze medal match. He outclassed the former World No. 1 3-0 for the first time, conceding only a single point in the second game.
India went into the doubles matches — the events with the best chance of procuring a medal — on the back of this victory and on the back of its medal-winning performance at the World Doubles Championships just a few months earlier. However, India’s golden girls from 2014 — Dipika Pallikal Karthik and Joshna Chinnapa — crashed out before the medal rounds in the women’s doubles.
A medal was won in mixed doubles, Saurav and Dipika winning bronze, but it was a worse result than at Gold Coast four years ago, when they won silver.
In the end, it is perhaps safe to say that Saurav, with his two medals, saved India the blushes.