Deccan Chronicle: Saurav comes of age

Cyrus Poncha and Saurav GhosalThe satisfaction of having landed a bronze medal at the Asian Games was palpable on Saurav Ghosal’s face. He has done India proud by winning the country’s lone squash medal at Doha. Saurav Ghosal was a picture of confidence when he received the Rs 2.5-lakh reward that was given by the ICL squash academy for his Asian Games achievement. Even for someone who is used to encomiums showered on him at this venue, Thursday’s celebration was different. The reason was obvious: Saurav has done something no Indian has achieved before.
Though he is elated with his show at Doha, Saurav says he could have even won the gold medal. “I am happy that I have returned home with the bronze medal. Ong Beng Hee is one of the best players in Asia and I am satisfied that I gave my best against him in the semifinal. To comeback well after dropping the first two games was a hugely satisfying experience. He was the better player on that day and his victory in the final put it beyond doubt where he stands in Asia”, he adds.

The journey from a diminutive spikehaired schoolboy to an Asian Games medallist has been eventful for Saurav. He acknowledged the role played by SRFI secretary N. Ramachandran and his coaches Cyrus Poncha and Major Maniam Saurav in shaping his career. The soft spoken Saurav conceded that he tried a little too hard in the quarterfinal against his good friend Ritwik Bhattacharya. “When the score was six-all in the third game I knew I was close and tried a few things and lost. During the break I told myself to enjoy the game and not put pressure on myself and the strategy paid off,” points out Saurav.

National coach Cyrus Poncha is thrilled by his charge’s feat. “Saurav has made rapid strides in the last few years and it is beginning to show. He is a true professional who does not complain and he is always ready for the hard yards.” Saurav had spent two gruelling weeks in England under the watchful eyes of Cyrus, a Dronacharya awardee, before the Doha Games. According to Cyrus, there is no noticeable weakness in Saurav’s game. The national champion, the coach says, will improve with more exposure against top players. Saurav’s speed on the court has drawn effusive praise from all quarters. His shot selection has also improved considerably and technically the youngster seems to have plugged all holes.

Next on Saurav’s agenda is a couple of top-tier PSA events in the United States. His World ranking that currently stands at 49 is likely to go up in the coming months as the events he is going to compete will ensure a bagful of points if he does well. Sadly though his performance in Doha will not give him direct entry to any top event and he will have to go through the qualifiers. “I am actually looking forward to playing the qualifiers, all top tournaments consist of a 32-player field and that signifies the kind of quality I will be up against”. Having conquered the top-50 in the PSA rankings and nailed India’s first squash medal in the Asiad, Saurav has set a tough benchmark for himself, but blessed with an ability to see the brighter side of things even when the chips are down Saurav should come up trumps in his future assignments too.

Saurav at Doha 1st round: Beat Armando Amante (Macau) 9-0, 9-3, 9-0. 2nd round: Beat Kim Dong Woo (South Korea) 9-0, 9-3, 9-1. Quarterfinal: Beat Ritwik Bhattacharya (India) 9-4, 9-0, 6-9, 9-7. Semifinal: Lost to Ong Beng Hee (Malaysia) 1-9, 2-9, 9-6, 4-9.

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About Cyrus Poncha
I was born and lived in Bombay before moving to Chennai in 2001 to coach the Indian national squash team....what a journey its been!!

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