Almost a year since his debut, Abhishek scores brace in World Cup
Abhishek's brace against Japan in the Hockey World Cup earned him the 'Player of the Match' award.
India defeated Japan in their 9-16th classification match at the ongoing Hockey Men's World Cup 2023 in an 8-0 win. One man shone brightly on the day who had made his national team debut just a year back.
Forward Abhishek scored his first World Cup goals in his first World Cup with his brace against Japan on Thursday. The Sonipat local made his debut for his country back in February 2022 when he even scored a couple of goals in the FIH Pro League tour matches is South Africa.
Almost a year on since that fateful day in his life, the 23-year-old has perhaps had his best performance in an India shirt so far in his short career.
However, everything that led to this moment in his life has not been easy. As told to Indian Express, "This (hockey) is my second shot at life." During his formative years, the player had met with a life-threatening accident.
What started off as an innocent attempt to get some blackberries from a tree, quickly turned to a 15-stitch, a week-long stay at an ICU for the youngster then. It was glass which had penetrated his left hand while jumping from the tree, which severed some nerves.
Son to a former Border Security Force officer in his father, and a housewife in his mother, Abhishek was a casual, hopping-on-the-bandwagon-esque teen, with no innate in hockey. It was when a friend took up the stick is when the current national team player followed suit.
"I found the sport quite interesting. Earlier, it used to be just friendly games with my schoolmates, but later, I decided to pursue a career in the sport as my interest kept growing," he told Scroll in an exclusive interview after his debut last year.
A key figure in his life has to be childhood Hindi teacher-turned-coach Shamsher Singh. Monikered as 'masterji' in a sardonic way by his players, Singh was a Messi aficionado and would urge his wards to read about the Argentine and watch his dribbling skills.
This is perhaps why Abhishek's dribbles and body-feints pay homage to the recent FIFA World Cup winner. "He has a great dodge and uses body feints very smartly. It comes naturally to him. For as long as I remember, he's played like this," Shamsher told Indian Express.
It was a slow and steady climb up the ranks for the forward. It was his brilliant stint with the Punjab National Bank team that attracted eyeballs, especially at the men's national team camp.
This is when he was included in the Commonwealth Games 2022 squad, where he ultimately won his first piece of silverware with India when the men in blue clinched silver in Birmingham games final against Australia.
Although it's still a long way for the youngster and his fledgling hockey career, the signs are nothing but promising.