V R Raghunath


BornNovember 1, 1988


VR Raghunath is another in a long line of illustrious hockey players from Coorg in Karnataka, one of the nurseries of Indian hockey in the country. However, it has not been an easy journey for him, as he has always had to fight for his place in the side, both as a defender and a penalty corner specialist. The burly defender made his first foray into the national side at the 2003 sub-junior Asia Cup in Dhaka, which India won. He made his senior international debut against Pakistan during the bi-lateral series in 2005, when he was just 17 years old. However, he made headlines for the first time when he was drafted into the national side at the 2006 World Cup, as a replacement for Sandeep Singh, who was accidentally shot just before leaving for the tournament. As an 18-year-old with limited international experience, Raghunath was played sparingly by coach Vasudevan Baskaran but managed to perform decently despite being up against the best in the world. He was also part of the silver medal-winning SAF Games team, and won bronze and silver in 2007 and 2008 editions respectively of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup. He was also part of the Indian team that won the Asia Cup in 2007 at home. His impressive achievements notwithstanding, Raghunath has had to struggle at every step to prove his worth. When he first broke onto the scene in 2003, he was too raw and had to compete with the likes of Jugraj Singh – who was emerging as one of the most feared drag-flickers in the world then before suffering a life-threatening accident. Later, when he finally made it to the senior side, he had to compete with Sandeep Singh, who was already an established name both in the domestic and international circuits. As such, Raghunath always had to play second fiddle. Current coach Michael Nobbs has helped him work on his fitness, which has helped him shed some of his excess weight. Raghunath had to spend time away from the national side as well, and the time he spent with his employers Indian Oil in domestic tournaments helped him improve his tackling and defending skills and thus cement his place in the current national squad. Along with Sandeep Singh, he forms the deadly duo of drag-flickers who are always a threat to the opposition. Raghunath represented India in men's hockey during the 2012 London Olympics.
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