The Asian Games 2023 witnessed an exceptional performance by India's squash team, marking a historic milestone in their journey. With two gold medals, a silver, and two bronze medals, it was undoubtedly India's most successful outing on the squash court at the Asian Games.
Saurav Ghosal, the undisputed king of Indian squash, proved yet again that age is just a number. At 37, he showcased his brilliance by clinching both a gold and a silver medal. One can't help but wonder what could have been if he had secured that elusive individual gold. Nevertheless, Ghosal continues to be a gift to Indian squash, effortlessly outplaying opponents much younger than him.
Quest for gold remains
The main focus of this Asian Games was Saurav Ghosal's quest to complete his Asian Games accolades. His pivotal role in the men's team semi-final, where he broke the heart of Asia's number one, Eain Yow, took India one step closer to a second gold medal. The question arose: would Eain Yow return the favor in the men's singles final? Ghosal's trademark long rallies wore down his opponents, making it seem almost effortless, and he remained the most reliable player for India.
The singles final turned out to be an epic clash between Asia's top two players. Initially trailing by five points, Saurav mounted a remarkable comeback to claim the first game. His unshakable composure, even when facing a significant deficit, was truly remarkable. The second set saw Eain Yow take a 2-0 lead, and despite a valiant effort from Ghosal, he narrowly lost it 9-11. The third and fourth sets witnessed Saurav fighting hard, but ultimately, he had to settle for a silver medal, losing the final 11-9, 9-11, 5-11, 7-11 in a grueling 72-minute battle.
A second gold
In the Men's and Women's team events, India secured their first medal, a bronze, in the women's team category after a semifinal defeat to Hong Kong. Despite falling short of the gold, the team, comprising veterans like Joshna Chinnappa and the youngest talent, Anahat Singh, performed splendidly in the pool games.
Defeating Pakistan is always special, and beating them in the finals was a double delight. Overcoming the loss to Pakistan in the pool games was sweet revenge, preventing them from their only hope of a gold medal. Mahesh Mangaonkar started with a loss against Nasir Iqbal, but India's reliable Saurav Ghosal brought India back into contention with a win. Abhay Singh emerged as the hero by defeating Noor Zaman in the decisive game, securing India's second gold in the Men's team event after a long nine years.
Historic mixed doubles campaign
The introduction of mixed doubles in the Asian Games saw India create an unchangeable record—a first-ever mixed doubles gold. The pairing of Dipika Pallikal and Harinderpal Singh achieved this historic feat by defeating Malaysia's top-seeded Aifa Azman and Mohd Kamal in the final. India's top-seeded duo, Abhay Singh and Anahat added to the glory with a bronze medal despite their loss to the top-seeded Malaysian pair in the semifinals. The mixed doubles event showcased the potential of the new generation, ready to carry the legacy forward.