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Toofani Tushar relishes goals in his 5th Azlan tou (5/11/2010)
--K. Arumugam
Toofani Tushar relishes goals in his fifth Azlan tour

Tushar Khandkar is a winger, link man, striker, all rolled into one, a veritable cocktail that enliven the Indian team, with a telling effect on the rivals. The toofani Tushar, on his fifth Azlan Shah Cup outing here, has been in the thick of things as never before, setting up goals for others, and on ideal conditions, striking on his own.

undefined On Sunday, the Jhansi hero, scored a brace of goals against Australia, and the significance of which can be gauged by the fact that he is only just back on the striking role after being a linkman for long spells including in the Delhi World Cup.

“I play for the country. If coaches assign me linkman role, am ok with it. Now am asked to be in the attack line. It is also fine for me, am in the end enjoying hockey”, this is what the youngster said when asked which is his option, linkman or striker.

“A player’s worth is seeing his team winning, positions not important”

Tushar might be modest, moderate, mild and mature in his self-assessment, but the goings on here prove where he excels – scoring goals. It is therefore upto us tojudge where he suits the best for the team.

On Sunday, he almost played full time, which is very high play-time in the team which relies on frequent substitutions to keep the legs afresh, and strike to give everybody a feel of the team with equal opportunity to be on the turf.

His role in the first half when India sprung a surprise with three goals was immense. From the right flank he sent a couple of crosses which should have been lapped up by others, especially Sarwanjit Singh, who is on his third Azlan Shah outing, not a fresher anymore, but was found wanting to avail those balls served on platter.

After one such cross, agile Tushar switched sides, waited with a hawkish eye for rebound and when got it he was alert enough to deflect the ball into the net, all within split second. This was how India broke the Aussie defence in the 19th minute, for India’s first goal and then the floodgates opened.

His second goal was even more entertaining. “I give full credit to Shivender Singh for the second goals who was very fast, and thoroughly opportunistic, its who exchanged passes in the circle with Ravi Pal first and then with me”.

This third Indian goal gave India a dream halftime break, for the watchers its nostalgic memory of our teams of 50s and 60s, who used to score goals in dozens against Aussies.

This victory on Australia is all the more sweet and memorable for Tushar for the simple reason that he made his senior international debut in the Australian tour seven summers ago. Incidentally, India defeated Australia in the Sydney finals, which is last time India won Australia.

undefined It took seven years for India to repeat another win, and it is a nice feeling for Tushar to be part of these two matches. Tushar being a team man to the core does not take credit for the Superb Sunday

“Sir, what matters is win; we all win or we all lose. People will only say, record will only have, India lost or India won. Winning is important”, says with enormous maturity.

And he doesn’t plant any other view when in person. He minds what he says, and he is wordy wise.

A nephew of Subodh Khandkar of yester years, Tushar fought with his parents to play hockey, and is a rare player who won all age-group Asia Cups.

In fact, it took more than any others to get the senior national colours and his progress is gradual, an indication he does not have any god fathers.

It makes his hockey career all the more interesting, as he rose on the strength of merit, not because of regional labels.

Tushar recalled his Azlan sojourns, and feels bad for the first one.

“I was very sad because we finished seventh in a field of seventh in 2004 and then next year we could end only at fifth. 2006 was a tough Azlan outing as all the teams were in full strength since the World Cup was in the offing”.

Tushar almost played under all coaches, it was Harendera in 2004 and 2009, Rajinder Jr in 2005, V. Baskaran in 2006 and the list goes on.

Tushar’s persona came in ample light when he was asked whether World Cup match where Australia decimated India (2-5) was in the mind today before the match, he simply said, “I don’t carry past matches in the mind, so also every player. Win or lose that match is over, we are ready for the another one”.

This state of his mind only took where Tushar is today, and perhaps to many more laurels in future.

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