In the end, there was no fairytale. It was the one prize missing from his cabinet and despite his best efforts, Saurav Ghosal on Thursday had to settle for his second silver and fifth consecutive singles Asian Games medal, going down 11-9, 9-11, 5-11, 7-11 to Malaysia’s Eain Yow Ng.
It was India’s fifth medal in the sport.
At 37, Ghosal knew it possibly was his last shot at the elusive gold and that it wouldn’t be easy against the 25-year-old Ng, ranked just a spot above him on the PSA rankings. But he started well and kept fighting, coming back from a 1-6 deficit to take the first game 11-9.
The rallies kept getting longer as the match wore on, and the points kept getting replayed even as the two finalists on the court refused to concede any quarter. Multiple rallies stretched for more than a minute as neither gave up, retrieving from the most impossible positions and running furiously all across the court.
But a couple of questionable decisions in Game 2 shook the momentum, and Ng pounced on the opportunity, with Ghosal unable to recover despite his best efforts.
“It’s not easy. I had a period of about 2-3 minutes where I got like 3-4 (decisions) in a row, which were interesting. I tried to deal with it as best as I could, but it helps the other person as well, and he is a quality player. He did what he had to, made the best use of it and won,” a visibly disappointed Ghosal admitted.
He kept pace with Ng and levelled scores repeatedly till 9-9 before hitting the tin to concede the game. The 3rd and 4th games played out in a similar fashion, with Ghosal starting positively but unable to dictate the terms of the match as Ng gradually took control. “Very much sad and disappointed.
Things just unravelled from the middle of the 2nd game and didn’t go my way. Weird things happened, and Yow fed off that and played some very good squash, imposed himself a lot better on the game, and I couldn’t respond with enough interest, I guess,” a dejected Ghosal added.
But the most decorated Indian athlete in the sport, with a medal in every edition he has participated in since his Asian Games debut in 2006, was proud of his performance. “That’s the one medal I really wanted, and I put in everything. I don’t know if I am going to have another shot, but if this is the last one, I can be proud of the fact I gave it everything, and I don’t think I could have given more,” he declared.