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London Lions: Tushar: Time to re-establish his sta (7/3/2012)
--K. Arumugam
Tushar Khandker: Time to re-establish his status of a star

Never do in the long career of Tushar, he will be so critically watched, as it would happen in London in four week's time. For, it is testing time for the long standing star, what with goals not coming as much as expected of him, and which is a big flaw in the current team.

As a senior player in the team, therefore, his role will come under scrutiny, and he is aware of this. He has everything, a bit of Arjun Halappa in making penalty corners, a bit of Jude Felix in pepping up attack, and a dash of Jagbir Singh what with quick jump for deflection and of course his unique patent of whacking waist-height ball into either corner of the net.

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Another one from the junior team of 2001 who made his mark on the senior side as well. Inside the opposition half, Tushar Khandker is a multi-purpose man. He makes the moves, creates goals for others and scores them himself as well. The speedy winger is the current Indian team’s livewire and part of the core group of senior players.

A spectators’ delight and trainers’ asset, Tushar has never shied away from hard work. A product of Delhi-based Air India Academy (now shut down), Tushar belongs to a hockey family – his father Vinod Khandkar was a state-level player and his uncle, Subodh Khandkar, has represented India on the international stage and his grandfather VB Khandkar was also a national level player.

Born on May 4 1985, Tushar established himself as a player in his very first India outing with a good display of talent – victorious 2001 Sub Junior Asia Cup, where he was named Man of the Match in the final. Tushar was also part of gold-winning Indian teams at the Youth Asia Cup (2001), Akhbar Al-Youm Cup (2002 & 2003) and many others in the age groups categories. However, despite his proven skills, Khandker had to wait a long time before breaking into the senior national side. The break finally came in 20003, when he was included for the Hockey Australia Challenge Cup, scoring in his debut match. However, that did not prevent him from continuing with the junior teams, since age was on his side and he managed to successfully straddle both.

At the 2004 Junior Asia Cup final in Karachi, Tushar scored a hat-trick to hog the limelight and prove his selection to the senior side a year before was not a fluke. The next year, he suffered personal tragedy while training in Frankfurt for the 2005 junior World Cup in Rotterdam when his father passes away. Tushar rushed to hometown Indore, only to return within three days and join his team. Despite the tragedy, he excelled at the event.

In 2007, Tushar was part of the gold-winning team at the Asia Cup in Chennai, earning the rare honour of becoming Asia Cup champion in every age group, the only Indian to do so! He led the team on the double-leg four-nation tour to Australia in 20008 after the Olympic qualifiers disaster. Employed with Bharat Petroleum, he led Bangalore Lions to the title in the now-defunct PHL in 2007-8. He married Nidhi last year, getting her name tattooed on his wrist and forearms – one after engagement and the other after marriage.

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