India’s squash players enjoyed a fairytale day as they won India’s first – and then second – ever gold medals in the finals of the 2022 WSF World Doubles Squash Championships in Glasgow, Scotland.
The country, the first in Asia to win a World Doubles title, beat England in the mixed and the women’s doubles, with England securing a gold of their own in the men’s doubles final.
Prior to today, India had been beaten finalists in the mixed doubles in 2016 and the men’s doubles in 2004. However, they may have felt confident in the mixed doubles final, with Ghosal and Pallikal Karthik No.2 seeds and their opponents, England’s Adrian Waller and Alison Waters, seeded fourth.
In an electric start, Ghosal and Pallikal Karthik blasted their way into a 9/1 lead in the first game, with Waller and Waters unable to cope with the combination of power and accuracy both Indians had in spades.
While the English duo did eventually manage to find a foothold in the match, the lead India had was too great and the No.2 seeds took the first game 11/6.
In the second game, both sides went on scoring runs. India, though, were able to keep their noses ahead for the majority, with the duo eventually securing an 11/8 win to take the historic title.
Afterwards, Pallikal Karthik, who returned to the game after three years out and having become a first-time mother to twins last October, said: “It’s just been a long journey for me to be here. And I’m just very, very excited to be playing with Saurav and being with the whole Indian team. There’s a lot of gratitude from me just being here today.
“The plan was to always come back [to squash]. But in between it didn’t really seem likely. But I think I just had the right people with me, Saurav kept pushing me wherever he was in the world! And then obviously my husband [IPL cricketer Dinesh Karthik], my in-laws, my parents, all just making me be back here and playing again.”
Ghosal added: “I think India is an emerging country. We are trying to do our best to put our foothold on the world squash map. Of course, countries like England and Australia and now Egypt have done exceedingly well and their history is very rich. This generation is trying to create create some history so that the next generations can follow us.”
No sooner had Pallikal Karthik completed her post-match interviews than the 30-year-old was back on court, this time securing India’s second gold medal of all time and of the afternoon.
Alongside Joshna Chinappa, Pallikal Karthik once again put England to the sword.
After taking the first game 11/9, India were pegged back by an 11/4 second-game loss to women’s No.2 seeds Sarah-Jane Perry and Alison Waters.
Although Perry and Waters had already beaten the Indian pair back in the group stage of the tournament, today there was to be no repeat, with Chinappa and Pallikal Karthik recovering to take the third 11/8.
Chinappa said afterwards: “I feel great. After we lost to them a few days back, we really wanted to come out with a very strong plan. Fortunately, I have a very strong partner, so that helps me quite a bit on court!”
Pallikal Karthik added that it was incredible to win her second gold medal of the day and that she would use the experience of the tournament as a springboard for the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England.
After two demoralising defeats for England, there was joy for them in the last final of the day, as top seeds Declan James and James Willstrop broke home hearts with a 2-0 win over Scottish No.6 seeds Greg Lobban and Rory Stewart.
At 10/8 down in the first game, the prospect of England’s long hunt for a championship gold – which they hadn’t won since 1997 in Hong Kong – seemed looming. James and Willstrop recovered spectacularly, though, saving the game balls and taking the first game 11/10 before winning the second 11/6 to take the title.
“That was tremendous,” Willstrop said after the match. “We knew that we had to just be absolutely on it. We gave them full respect because they deserve it. And hopefully we deserve it. We’re chuffed to bits.
“It’s a huge event, it’s a world title. We’re so grateful to Scottish Squash, to the WSF and for everyone who’s joined together to put this together and make it a huge event.
“It’s a great facility, isn’t it? And it’s good memories from Glasgow [where the 2014 Commonwealth Games were played] for some of the old geezers in the team. So yeah, we’re thrilled with it. And we’re glad to be up here playing!”
Lobban, meanwhile, reflected on the positives of a week in which Scottish teams played above their seedings and won silver and bronze medals in the men’s draw, a bronze medal in the mixed, and secured impressive fifth-place finishes in the mixed and women’s draws.
He said: “The tournament was fantastic. I had a good run in the men’s with Rory and with Lisa [Aitken] in the mixed draw. Tonight, we came really close.
“It’s tough to take but looking at the bigger picture, getting to the world championships is a big achievement that we’re very proud of. This is the first time Rory and I have played together in a major competition, so to come second in the men’s draw is a great achievement. We knew coming in we were one of the best teams and had a really good chance, so I’m pleased we came away with something.”
Elsewhere, there were a number of other matches to decide final positions, including both South Africa and Australia ending the day with two wins apiece.
At the medal ceremony, WSF President Zena Wooldridge and Scottish Squash President Mark Adderley thanked the players, partners, volunteers and everyone else who had made the tournament a success.
Wooldridge added: “I think you’ll agree this has been an absolutely fabulous week of squash. Having been denied World Championships for nearly two and a half years, it’s just fantastic to be back.”
Results: WSF World Doubles Squash Championships Finals
Mixed Doubles Final:  Saurav Ghosal/Dipika Pallikal Karthik (IND) (11/6 11/8 22mins)  Adrian Waller/Alison Waters (ENG)
Women’s Final:  Joshna Chinappa/Dipika Pallikal Karthik (IND) (11/9 4/11 11/8 40mins)  Sarah-Jane Perry/Alison Waters (ENG)
Men’s Final:  Declan James/James Willstrop (ENG) (11/10 11/6 51mins)  Greg Lobban/Rory Stewart (SCO)
All Other Results
Mixed – Third/Fourth Playoff [5/6] Joel Makin/Tesni Evans (WAL) (8/11 9/11 28mins) [7/8] Greg Lobban/Lisa Aitken (SCO)
Mixed – Position 01-08 [13/16] Rory Stewart/Georgia Adderley (SCO) (4/11 11/7 11/8 43mins) [5/6] Ryan Cuskelly/Rachael Grinham (AUS)
Mixed – Position 09-16 [9/10] Vikram Malhotra/Joshna Chinappa (IND) (4/11 6/11 14mins) [9/10] Mohammad Syafiq Kamal/Aifa Azman (MAS)
Women’s – Position 09-12 [11/12] Alexandra Fuller/Cheyna Wood (RSA) (11/10 10/11 11/10 34mins) [11/12] Abbie Palmer/Kaitlyn Watts (NZL)
Women’s – Position 05-08 [5/6] Georgina Kennedy/Lucy Turmel (ENG) (5/11 11/3 4/11 25mins) [7/8] Georgia Adderley/Lisa Aitken (SCO)
Men’s – Third/Fourth Playoff  Alan Clyne/Douglas Kempsell (SCO) (11/9 10/11 11/9 61mins)  Daryl Selby/Adrian Waller (ENG)
Men’s – Position 01-16 [10/12] Rhys Dowling/Rex Hedrick (AUS) (11/9 9/11 11/10 63mins) [13/15] Tsz Kwan Lau/Henry Leung (HKG)
Men’s Position 01-16 [16/18] Jean-Pierre Brits/Christo Potgieter (RSA) (10/11 11/7 11/3 33mins) Bernat Jaume/Joel Jaume Izcara (ESP)
Men’s – Position 01-16 [7/9] Peter Creed/Emyr Evans (WAL) (11/5 11/5 23mins) [13/15] Addeen Idrakie/Sai Hung Ong (MAS)
Men’s – Position 01-16  Zac Alexander/Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) (11/7 11/8 23mins)  Eain Yow Ng/Ivan Yuen (MAS)
Men’s – Position 17-32 [7/9] Vikram Malhotra/Ramit Tandon (IND) (11/7 11/10 37mins) Elliot Morris/Owain Taylor (WAL)
1 Saurav Ghosal & Dipika Pallikal Karthik (IND)
2 Adrian Waller & Alison Waters (ENG)
3 Greg Lobban & Lisa Aitken (SCO)
4 Joel Makin & Tesni Evans (WAL)
5 Rory Stewart & Georgia Adderley (SCO)
6 Ryan Cuskelly & Rachael Grinham (AUS)
7 Patrick Rooney & Georgina Kennedy (ENG)
8 Paul Coll & Joelle King (NZL)
9 Mohammad Syafiq Kamal & Aifa Azman (MAS)
10 Vikram Malhotra & Joshna Chinappa (IND)
1 Joshna Chinappa & Dipika Pallikal Karthik (IND)
2 Sarah-Jane Perry & Alison Waters (ENG)
3 Rachel Arnold & Sivasangari Subramaniam (MAS)
4 Joelle King & Amanda Landers-Murphy (NZL)
5 Georgia Adderley & Lisa Aitken (SCO)
6 Georgina Kennedy & Lucy Turmel (ENG)
1 Declan James & James Willstrop (ENG)
2 Greg Lobban & Rory Stewart (SCO)
3 Alan Clyne & Douglas Kempsell (SCO)
4 Daryl Selby & Adrian Waller (ENG)
5 Zac Alexander & Ryan Cuskelly (AUS)
6 Eain Yow Ng & Ivan Yuen (MAS)
7 Peter Creed & Emyr Evans (WAL)
8 Addeen Idrakie & Sai Hung Ong (MAS)
9 Rhys Dowling & Rex Hedrick (AUS)
10 Tsz Kwan Lau & Henry Leung (HKG)
11 Jean-Pierre Brits & Christo Potgieter (RSA)
12 Bernat Jaume & Joel Jaume Izcara (ESP)
13 Vikram Malhotra & Ramit Tandon (IND)
14 Elliott Morris & Owain Taylor (WAL)