There are many positives from the Indian men hockey team’s campaign at the 11th Asia Cup in Jakarta. And perhaps the biggest of find of the tournament is forward Pawan Rajbhar. The towering presence of the strapping 24-year-old Uttar Pradesh youngster was amply evident in all of India’s matches in the Asia Cup irrespective of what was the final outcome. The Ghazipur lad, who is employed with Indian Navy, made everyone sit up and take notice of him with his impressive and consistent performances in Jakarta.
Read 11th Asia Cup: India Claw Back to Fighting 3-3 Draw Against Malaysia
A team player to the core, Pawan has showcased at the GBK Stadium that he is not just a skilled striker but one who can set up goal-scoring situations for his team-mates. The unselfish streak of Pawan came to the fore regularly in Jakarta – one saw how he set up Uttam Singh for a peace of a goal against Japan in their 2-1 win and again he dodged his marker and fed SV Sunil in a crucial juncture of the match when India were trailing 1-2 against Malaysia.
Former Indian player and 1994 World Cupper Rajnish Mishra rates Pawan highly. “He is a tall, strong lad who has a bright future ahead of him. I first saw him at the 2016 Junior Nationals and was impressed with his skills. He has been consistently performing in the domestic circuit for last three years and I’m glad he is making the most of his opportunities now,” he says.
A product of Sports Authority of India (SAI), Bhopal, Pawan joined Indian Navy in 2017. Like most hockey players, Pawan had to endure struggles to make it big as a hockey player. He lost his father early and his younger brother is also a hockey player training his SAI, Bhopal.
Indian Navy coach Ajay Kumar waves eloquent on Pawan. “He is a strong lad with lots of speed and skill. His decision-making inside the ‘D’ is outstanding. He is a very selfless player and has the knack of creating goals as well as scoring goals.” Kumar insists Pawan only needs to work on his receiving skills. “I keep telling Pawan about the need to improve his receiving skills. He is deadly when he receives the ball on the run but in dead ball situations he needs to get better. He has a fantastic future ahead of him,” Kumar signs off.