India’s No 1 squash player Saurav Ghosal feels the current Indian crop of squash players are the best he has seen since he started playing the sport 18 years ago.
Ghosal, currently in Hong Kong, said the likes of Dipika Pallikal, Joshna Chinappa, Siddharth Suchde, Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu and Mahesh Mangaonkar (junior) are among the strongest players to have represented the country over the last two decades.
“The level of squash in India is definitely much higher than what it was. I’m sure a lot of people from the previous generation will say that’s not the case, but the rankings speak for themselves,” said the Arjuna awardee, ranked 22nd in the world.
For the record, Pallikal is ranked 13th in the world, Chinappa 32nd, Suchde 50th, Sandhu 73rd and 18-year-old Mangaonkar 118th.
“I’ve been playing in the Indian field since the age of eight, and I’ve grown up playing against various players, but playing against these guys has been the toughest for me,” added the 26-year-old six-time national champion.
Personally, the Kolkata lad has set his eyes on the top-10 rankings, which he hopes to break into by the end of next year. “I want to be in the top-20 as soon as I can. I’m aiming for the top-16 by the middle of next year, and eventually in the top-10 by the end of next year. It will be very hard, though,” asserted Ghosal.
However, he rues the lack of sponsorship and tournaments in India despite the strong talent coming through. “We didn’t have a single PSA (Professional Squash Association) or WSA (Women’s Squash Association) event in India this year, which is shocking. We need to get some money to organise national PSA events. And sponsorship is still an unchartered territory in squash in our cricket-obsessed country,” he said.