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FIH Pro League: Understudy goalie Pawan credits seniors Sreejesh, Krishan for success

Pawan Malik was one of the standout performers for India in the FIH Pro League mini tournament against Germany and Australia.

Pawan Malik Hockey Goalkeeper

Pawan Malik (pawan_malik17/Instagram)


Pritish Raj

Updated: 16 March 2023 3:44 AM GMT

India started their post-Hockey World Cup campaign with an unbeaten run in the FIH Pro League mini tournament against world champions Germany and Australia at the Birsa Munda International Stadium in Rourkela.

The men in blue registered three regulation-time victories and a win over the Australians via a shoot-out over the last one week. One of the standout performers for the David John-coached side was the young goalkeeper Pawan Malik.

In the absence of Krishan Phatak, who missed the tournament due to his wedding, Pawan emerged as a star for India. He appeared in all four matches and played a total of nine quarters, as an understudy to veteran PR Sreejesh.

“I had a dream and now playing with Sree bhai is a proud moment and dream come true for me. He is the true legend of the game and he keeps advising me on how to handle pressure," Pawan said in a conversation with The Bridge.

For a 21-year-old playing against World Champions and ever-rampant Australia can be nerve-wracking, but Pawan was backed to the hilt by his team and seniors.

“I was nervous before the game definitely but the seniors and team management have supported me. They told me to take it just as a game, remember our plans, and execute it during the game," he quipped.

The youngster credits his senior goalkeeping counterparts - Sreejesh, Phatak, and Suraj Karkera, for the improvement in his game.

“I have been part of the camp for some time. All the senior goalkeepers such as Sree bhai, Krishan Pathak paaji, and Suraj Karkera bhaisahab always guide me and help me improve my weak areas. During the special goalkeeper camp, I trained with them and worked my reflexes which is helping in such high-intensity games here in FIH Pro League," he said.

Pawan, who represented India at FIH Junior World in Bhubaneswar in 2021, has steadily climbed through the ranks over the years.

Hailing from an agricultural family based in the Hisar district of Haryana, Pawan started playing hockey when he was just 13 years old.

“I started playing hockey in 2010 from the ground in my hometown. From there I played across levels to play for India now. I come from a normal family. My father is a farmer who has always supported me in the pursuit of hockey," the 2018 Youth Olympics silver medallist said.

With Krishan Pathak and Suraj Karkera already in line, Pawan is down in the pecking order. The youngster understands it and is prepared to spend his time on the sidelines by picking the brains of his teammates.

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