New Delhi, Sep 14 (PTI) Picking the brains of veteran PR Sreejesh has played a key role in polishing his goalkeeping skills, says Indian men’s hockey team custodian Krishan Bahadur Pathak, who never hesitates to approach his senior colleague for guidance when “in doubt”.
Pathak and Sreejesh share a great camaraderie on the turf as the duo has been manning the goalpost of the Indian team for quite sometime now, including the last Asian Games in Jakarta and the Tokyo Olympics where they won a historic bronze.
“We (me and Sreejesh) have an excellent bonding between us. He is one of the senior players in the team and whenever I am in doubt, I just go up to him and seek his advice on the matter,” said Pathak, who has 103 international caps under his belt.
“His experience of playing over the last two decades surely helped me a lot.” The upcoming Hangzhou Asian Games will be Pathak’s second appearance in the continental showpiece and his target is simple — win the gold and qualify for next year’s Paris Olympics.
“It is definitely a proud moment for me and my family. If I look back on my journey, I never imagined that I would get the opportunity to earn more than 100 international caps for India and play my second Asian Games.
“It is something I will cherish for a lifetime. We will take it match by match and will not take any team for granted. We cannot let our guard down at any given time,” the goalkeeper from Punjab said.
India will open their Asian Games campaign against Uzbekistan on September 24.
Talking about the Indian team’s preparation, Pathak said they are now focussing on the basics and working on mistakes which they committed in the last tournament.
Both Sreejesh and Pathak also had special goalkeeping sessions with Dutch expert Dennis van de Pol ahead of the Games. “The training has been going well. All the players are working hard to prepare for the big tournament. We’ve had 4-5 goalkeeping sessions with Dennis, and there will be a few more in the coming days.
“We’ve gone over the basics again, focusing on the mistakes we made in previous tournaments and how to improve quick decision making, among other things. Before coming to the camp, Dennis asked us what problems we were having and how we could work together to solve them,” Pathak said.
Pathak, who made his senior team debut in 2018, was also a member of the Indian team that recently won the seventh edition of the Asian Champions Trophy in Chennai.
“We have a good run of games in the lead up to the Asian Games. We played against some top sides, so that will definitely help us in identifying what are our strong and weak points,” he said.
“The players will also get confidence from a good outing that they have had in the Asian Champions Trophy. We don’t want to repeat the mistakes going forward.”
Source: PTI News