When given a spot in the senior Indian squad for the FIH Pro League in March, rookie custodian Pawan Malik says it was “nerve-racking” to play against the best teams in the world, but that training with the renowned PR Sreejesh helped him with the pressure. (Also in hockey)
The 21-year-old made an impression in Rourkela during India's recent undefeated Pro League run.
Pawan took on a bigger role for the senior team during the Rourkela leg in March against the World Champions Germany and the strong Australians since Krishan Pathak had taken a personal leave of absence for his wedding earlier in the year.
“Playing against elite teams like Germany and Australia was nerve-wracking. According to a statement from Hockey India, “The pace and the assault they put on were completely different from what I was often accustomed to in my younger days.
But the squad really supported me, and spending a lot of time in camp with seasoned players was quite helpful.
Since his days playing junior hockey in India, the 21-year-old has advanced quickly in the sport. His Pro League performance attracted comparisons to Jean-Paul Danneberg, the top goaltender for Germany who also happened to be the same age.
“It's flattering when people compliment my work, but I still have a lot to learn. Working with a veteran with over two decades of experience like PR Sreejesh has given me insight into how to manage pressure during crucial matches.
I simply wanted to concentrate on the task at hand since it was a dream come true for me to play with him in the Pro League.
Along with four other goalies, Prashant Kumar Chauhan, Suraj Karkera, Krishan Pathak, and Sreejesh, Pawan is currently in training camp. Pawan was a key player in India's silver-medal winning performance at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires in 2018.
“At the moment, I'm not really concerned about the possibility of playing for India. I'll succeed when the moment is right, but in the meanwhile, I need to improve my abilities and be the greatest at what I do, he remarked.
Even though I'm not getting matches right now, the senior camp is a great place for me to learn a lot.
The nucleus of the Indian men's hockey team is situated at SAI, Bengaluru, where they are working hard under Chief Coach Craig Fulton, who assumed leadership last week.
With 5 straight victories and 2 victories in shootouts in their first 8 games, the team is currently leading the points table as it gets ready for the Pro League's European leg.