By Dhanraj Pillay

The yr was 1987. I used to be new to Bombay, because it was known as again then, and one of many first locations I visited was the hockey stadium subsequent to Churchgate station. I can’t recall the groups that have been taking part in, however I do bear in mind one factor: till that second, I had by no means seen anybody run so quick on a hockey floor. That was the primary time I noticed Maharaj Krishan Kaushik in flesh, he was taking part in for Tata I feel, and he was the whole lot my brother Ramesh described to me.

Over the a long time, Kaushik sir meant various things to me. Rising up in Khadki, I needed to be an Olympian like him. After transferring to Bombay and watching him play, I attempted to mannequin my sport round Kaushik sir’s, making an attempt to run as quick and cross as exactly as him. Once I turned a participant, he was one of many individuals who helped me realise my potential. After each of us bought previous, we turned pals.

His demise on Saturday night as a result of Covid-19-related issues has left me devastated. Hours earlier on Saturday, we misplaced one other nice participant and Kaushik sir’s teammate from the gold medal-winning 1980 Olympics aspect, Ravinder Pal Singh, additionally due to Covid-19. Ravinder sir by no means spoke lots however he took over the function of centre-half from Ajit Pal Singh and excelled in that place.

And whereas the hockey fraternity was nonetheless coming to phrases with Ravinder sir’s loss of life, the information of Kaushik sir’s passing away left us all shaken.

The place do I even start to speak about Kaushik sir’s greatness as a participant?

The Olympic title in 1980 is, after all, a reminder of the golden era – India’s final – to which he belonged. How is that this for an attacking quintet: Kaushik sir as the correct out, Merwyn bhai (Fernandes) as the correct in, Surinder Sodhi was the centre-forward, the good Mohammad Shahid, because the left in and Zafar bhai (Iqbal) because the overlooked.

On this star-studded line-up, Kaushik saab stood out along with his expertise. His tempo on the wings, the best way he carried the ball alongside the touchline and his pinpoint crosses have been the stuff of legends. As of late, the variety of crosses in a hockey match is a fraction of what it was throughout that interval. In that period, crosses have been a really potent weapon to attain targets.

We see it lots in soccer at present: a winger crosses a ball into the field, the centre-forward leaps and heads the ball previous the goalkeeper. Equally, again then in hockey, if a ball was crossed in from the left or proper, the centre-forward needed to convert it right into a purpose. Maarna he maarna hai (You need to rating a purpose).

READ | Hockey loses two shining lights in at some point, MK Kaushik and Ravindra Pal Singh

Kaushik sir was the king of crosses. Even on uneven grass surfaces, he performed crisp balls that will land proper on the stick of the ahead, ekdum floor ko chipak ke (proper alongside the bottom). It was outstanding, particularly as a result of they performed with white leather-based balls, much like those we see in T20 matches now.

A lot later, after I moved to Bombay, Joaquim (Carvalho) sir, MM Somaya sir, Merwyn bhai, Marcellus Gomes, my brother Ramesh… all of them used to inform me to observe and learn the way Kaushik carried the ball alongside the road, and performed the cross. I used to be not a really skillful participant again then, so I did precisely what I used to be instructed to do. For granted out, I attempted to repeat his methods though I don’t know the way profitable I used to be in doing that. Years later, I accomplished the complete circle.

Earlier than the 1998 Asian Video games, Kaushik sir, who was our coach, used to inform me to point out a number of the gamers the best way I ran with the ball and handed and crossed it. I used to be passing on the very expertise that I had learnt watching him, whereas he was our coach.

One of many greatest moments of my profession, the gold medal on the 1998 Asian Video games, got here below Kaushik sir. Heading into the match, I knew this may be my final Asiad and I used to be additionally assured of our possibilities.

We had a fantastic crew: Ashish Ballal, AB Subbaiah and Aloysius Edwards have been the goalkeepers. Dilip Tirkey, Lazarus Barla, Anil Aldrin, Baljit Singh, Mukesh Kumar… sab khiladi log. I used to be the captain, Kaushik sir was the chief coach and Mir Ranjan Negi was the assistant.

Earlier than the Video games, Merwyn sir had come to Bangalore to teach us for just a few days and MP Ganesh was the deputy director of Sports activities Authority of India’s Bangalore centre. Each evening, we met at Ganesh’s home to draft a plan for the following day. Comfortable-spoken and a disciplinarian, Kaushik sir gave us gamers numerous freedom to function.

Each participant was given a job within the crew, which was his means of displaying his religion in us. He pushed and motivated us in the correct method, which helped every one in all us play to our true potential and win the gold medal ultimately.

My bond with him, too, grew stronger through the years. Each time I used to be in Delhi, I made it some extent to fulfill him. We’ll all miss him lots.

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The author is a former Indian hockey crew captain. He appeared for India in 4 Olympic Video games, World Cups and Champion Trophies every. He spoke to Mihir Vasavda



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