PR Sreejesh

P.R. Sreejesh and Krishan Pathak move to one side of the goal of the practice ground at the Birsa Munda Stadium after the Saturday warm-up exercises. Shivendra Singh, an assistant coach, and goalkeeping consultant Dennis van de Pol line up to take shots at the goal from the perimeter of the circle, surrounded by a cluster of balls. Sreejesh and Pathak alternate in front of the goal and make save after save.

Sreejesh and Pathak

Image of Krishan Pathak from Facebook page: Embrace Hockey.

PR Sreejesh, the one who speaks up more and revels in his saves. Pathak’s style is more modest. Sreejesh approached Pathak before the last period of the match against England and gave him some advice before patting his chest and saying, “You got this!”

Sreejesh and Pathak alternate in the goal for field play and penalty corner routines for another 30 minutes while the practice with both goalkeepers continues. The 34-year-old seasoned player Sreejesh is often shouting instructions to his colleagues, but Pathak is selective in how he gives orders yet still gets them heard.

India has used the “rotating goalkeeper’s policy” by alternating between the two each quarter for the better part of the last 18 months, with some degree of success. Incredibly, they have stuck to the strategy throughout the World Cup.

P.R didn’t even attempt a single save in the opening-night victory over Spain, while Pathak was kept busy and required to make four key stops. Van de Pol was so ecstatic with how well they played that he neglected to even bring up the game.

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“It’s the way we have been playing,” Indian team coach Graham Reid said in defense of the selection. The play of both goalies has been outstanding. Both of them shove one another. In the event that something was to happen to one of them, having both of them as live choices would make it much simpler to replace them.

Van de Pol immediately agreed to the appointment of the head coach after joining the team.

With four World Cup victories under his belt, P.R is a seasoned Olympic bronze medalist. Pathak was forced to miss out on the Olympic medal because he was the backup goalie, but he is still the young shot-stopper trying to step out from under Sreejesh’s shadow. Having a solid succession plan in place also influenced the decision to elevate Pathak.

Van de Pol stated, “Sree is getting older, and we need a competent goalie in case he decides to stop. There are some teams with good backup goalies who never get the chance to play, so when they do, it’s brand-new to them.”

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