Ghosal makes history for India at world championships

Manchester: Saurav Ghosal on Wednesday became the first Indian squash player to reach the quarter-finals of the World Championships, overcoming a two-game deficit and considerable pressure to achieve it.

The 27-year-old Kolkata-born, Leeds-based world number 17 looked for half an hour as though he was going to miss his great chance, playing with rare inhibition against Henrik Mustonen, an unseeded Finn, and looking unable to throw off the emotional shackles.

But when Ghosal did that, he showed an ability to mix creative skills with a tight straight game which made it hard to attack him. He eventually controlled the second half of the match during a 5-11, 8-11, 11-8, 11-4, 11-2 victory.

"Definitely in my head there was a little bit of pressure," Ghosal admitted.

"Thinking that if I win I would make history. And maybe that restricted me a little bit.

"Henrik played well in the first two games while there was a restriction in me - and he was able to exploit that. He deserved to ne two-nil up.

"When I think about my match, I think about how I would like to play, and I try to visualise it. It didn`t happen to start with but fortunately I was able to change things just in time."

When Mustonen came back from 3-6 in the third game to 6-6 some of the tensest moments followed. But in the crisis Ghosal`s ball control did not let him down, and some sensible choices forced the errors which helped turn the match around.

In particular he was able to make the ball cling better and became tighter with his drops, although it remained a well-contested match between two light-footed, nimble men whose ability both to attack and defend well produced some long and entertaining rallies.

Ghosal finished the match with a rush, taking eight points in a row from 3-2, three times creating clingers which forced Mustonen to hit down, and doing damage with boasts, angles and drops.

When his final winner had been struck Ghosal did a mighty leap and swung an uppercut punch in celebration.

"I had to dig in super, super, super deep to grind that out," he told the crowd.

"I thought you dug deeper than that," quipped the master of ceremonies.

Ghosal will be hard put to progress further.

He next meets Ramy Ashour, the top-seeded defending champion from Egypt, who beat Cameron Pilley, the leading Australian, by 9-11, 11-8, 11-4, 12-10.

But whatever the result, Ghosal can hope to have given fresh encouragement to the development of squash in India, which is of such great potential benefit to a sport with Olympic aspirations.

"I hope it will help India," he said. "It`s a big milestone. There are lots more (of them to conquer, but hopefully this will give a little bit more impetus and motivation."

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