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Competent Raghunath waits for his recall (1/14/2011)
--Shashank Gupta
Competent Raghunath waits for his recall

Jan 14, 2010: All rounder Raghunath climbed to the top echelons of national team after excelling in all age group competitions. The methodical rise did not help when the vagaries of team selection started telling on his otherwise impeccable hockey career. He was dropped when he was at his best.

Getting dropped from the team when one is at peak of career is not something one can easily forget. It happened in the career of indomitable Raghunath, and he is yet to come over that. undefined

Raghunath was at his career peak when -- after Champions Challenge, Salta, Argentina, in 2009 – he was dropped from the team. What’s his fault, what the reasons could have been; may be the coach didn’t want a midfielder. Raghunath can only speculate, as no one pointed out to him or discussed with him while doing so.

‘Raghu’ to his team mates, he was inexperienced in 2006 Asian Games but has a matured player now, having capped a lot of matches under his belt, as experience mount through feats against the Asian countries.

Thereafter, it has been an endless wait for him. Now that the Indian Hockey is waiting for another coach, Raghunath is expecting a silver lining: possibly, a new coach may consider him again for the national colors. Raghunath doesn’t speak for himself and the reasons for his optimism; his statistics does for him, instead.

Raghunath emerged top scorer in Beighton Cup in Kolkata and Nehru Cup in Delhi this season, in particular. He is hopeful somebody is taking a note of these feats. Raghunath doesn’t want to give a chance to point out anything negative in him, and thus has worked on all aspects of his game to a satisfactory level.

Raghunath has traveled a long way to reach a position of what he is today. Travelling back in time, Raghunath - hailing from the Coorg, the mecca of Hockey in South India - came to Bangalore when he was a 6th class student. Thereafter, his life, off the field, revolved around his select friends from Coorg. Wherever he went he kept in touch with his family but did not bother them with the challenges of daily life. Once in a while, one can see Raghunath going back to Coorg to handle his legacy of coffee business.

On the other hand, he admits, “My first love remains Mechanics and Aeronautics. Had I not come into Hockey, I would have been to either of them.” Computer savvy Raghunath keeps himself updated with the happenings in this field. He loves exploring new software and hardware.

Describing himself as a ‘cool dude’, Raghunath has had his share of his agonies of hockey career. He was the part of the team that made national headlines almost on all channels of the country; their loss to England in Chile Olympics Qualifier in 2008, thereby rendering the Indian team out of Beijing Olympics ‘08, was news that refused to go away from the headlines for a long time. Raghunath falls short of words when talking about that loss. He recalls, albeit painfully, how he was unable to sleep peacefully in the days that followed the defeat. Many other victories achieved subsequently had no meaning for him. That team was his dream team, best in his hockey career. How things would have gone favourbly had India not lost in the fateful Qualifier. This remains etched in his thoughts all the time. undefined

Equally emotional, Raghunath talks about India’s loss in the recently concluded Asian Games’ semis. He recollects with much pain about the penalty corner that India got in the extra time against Malaysia. At this moment, injured Sandeep Singh was the only drag flicker in team, and wasn’t on the field due to an injury. India couldn’t capitalize on that. Moments later, Malaysia capitalized on their penalty corner, and surged into their first ever Asiad final.

Raghunath wonders. Had the team had him as another drag flicker, things could have gone different. That makes him think, if at all, Jose Brasa gave back India for what he was brought for; whether he took too much time in feeling the pulse of Indian Hockey? Braving ahead, Raghunath wishes to dwell on brighter side of his career as well.

With a twinkle in his eyes, he remembers the special moment of beating Korea in Asia Cup, 2007, in Chennai. “It was a special day for me, crushing Asian powerhouse 7-2 in front of a packed stadium”, he said as if it happened the other day.

An emotional person, movies like Gladiator and Invictus that inspire with a rush of adrenaline, remain his favorites. Modest and thankful, Raghunath remembers his coaches in his formative years – Manohar, Prabhakar and Aswath – without whom he wouldn’t have come this far. K Krishnamurthy, Harendra Singh and Joaquim Carvalho are other people whom he is grateful to.

Raghunath asserts World Series Hockey has got immense potential to take Hockey to new heights in this country. Being professionally managed, he feels the league will be even big hit than the PHL.

Raghunath dreams of attaining the heights of Sohail Abbas – his role model – one day. Sohail, according to him, is ‘terror’ on the field and that is what he wants to be. A believer in self, Raghunath has his motivation mantra clear – Happiness and problems go hand in hand. The only to deal with a problem is to take it on your face. Possibly, that is how a goalkeeper can stop his drag flicks!

Raghunath wearing the Chennai Veerans label during the Premier Hockey League days
Raghunath and Vikram Kanth strike a sympony to score a goal in the ongoing Karnataka Super Division League

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by Kamlesh Jain on 1/15/2011 3:11:56 PM
he is a good player