Indian hockey team’s win over Malaysia in the Asia Cup was really crucial. In achieving this win, the contribution of our talented and hardworking defender VR Raghunath cannot be underestimated.
Since a long time, many fans have had a feeling that this capable player has never been given the status he truly deserves.
Many of us would be surprised to know that Vokkaliga Ramachandra Raghunath made his senior debut against Pakistan in a bilateral series in the year 2005. He was barely 17-years old back then, although he had played at the sub-junior level in the 2003 Asia Cup. He also got a chance to be a part of the Indian National Team for the 2006 World Cup. This opportunity came along as a surprise, only because Sandeep Singh was unavailable. But Raghunath proved to be a good replacement.
Jugraj Singh and Sandeep Singh were established in the team at that point, and this gave tough competition to Raghunath. But this dedicated player from Coorg, Karnataka never gave up and rather put everything at stake to remain in the squad.
This penalty corner expert was part of the Indian squad which won bronze in Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in 2007 and also won silver in the same tournament in 2008. Also, he was a member of team India which won the Asia Cup in the year 2007, held in Chennai. He scored 17 goals in the 2008 season. It is understood that while playing in the domestic circuit representing Indian Oil, he had a chance to improvise his skills of defending and smartly tackling the opponent. Raghunath really worked hard and I believe that the sweat and toil put in by him at that time is really paying off now.
He is a very disciplined and committed player, who never misses any practice session. He is also known for his down to earth attitude and has always maintained a low profile but once he is on the field holding his stick, it becomes very difficult for any forward to rip through his solid defence. He has a die-hard spirit and he does not believe in giving up. During the recent times, his expertise as a drag flicker has been fully utilized by India.
What appears fascinating to me is his quick moves and agility. He is seen as an all around player and has sharp observation skills.
It was our coach Michael Nobbs, who saw the spark and the hidden talent. Therefore, under his management, Raghunath sharpened his skills further. Whatever he has achieved through his recent performances, the credit definitely goes to the worthy coach. Until now, captain Sardar Singh and young Mandeep Singh have been taking the limelight, but it is high time that due weightage and regard is given to vibrant, versatile fighter Raghunath.
In the Hockey India League, he was bought for $76,000, which speaks volumes about the talent he possesses. Hopefully, he will delight us with his outstanding performances for many years to come.Published 01 Sep 2013, 02:15 IST