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2018 World Cup News
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Contrasting Dilip & Dhanraj Exhibition match today (10/10/2018)
--K. Arumugam
Two of Indian hockey's living legends will line up today with the present and past players behind them to play an exhibition match in Bhubneswar to mark the inauguration of refurbished Kalinga hockey stadium. Fittingly, one team is named after Dilip Tirkey, the local folkfore, while the other after his senior colleague Dhanraj Pillay.


Both players were contrasting not only in the roles they assumed on the fields, but also personality wise.

If Dhanraj Pillay on the turf was a fox on the forwardline, drawing applaud for every move Dilip Tirkey on the other hand played to copybook, concealing his sphere of excellence from spectacle.

Dhanraj can instantly intrigue his rivals with his unpredictable pattern of play, and mesmerize crowd. Whatever Pillay does will be envious for others, role model stuff for the up and coming players.

Dilip Tirkey was a cucumber, byword for calm and composure even on situations that is not conducive to be so.

his cool-headedness is remarkable, inimitable and impeccable.

Dilip Tirkey was coaches' delight measured in terms of punctuality, commitment, readiness to stick to the work plan.

Dhanraj has always been his own man. he is anathema to coaches, not many could control the Tsunami that he proved to be so often. Further, he will choose his tournament, his occasion, even his front line partners!

Dhanraj often represented team's cause, arguing for its creature comforts, questioning run of the mill officials acts of omissions. This had made him a savior of sort within the team. "When he is around, the team will get all that it wants", used to tell a physiotherapist with the team often.

That's why Dhanraj got into troubles often, actual or contrived, which kept him under limelight all through his career.

In the process, he turned out to be hockey's brand and face.

Dharaj alternated with his ambition to be a professional player and commitment to country. He had a genuine dilemma. Its also the open secret behind his longevity: playing in top notch clubs abroad during India's domestic season and appearing for national camps straightaway even sometimes only for the selection trials! His charisma got him the privilege, which was often disliked and disapproved by the coaches, not to speak of administration.

Dhanraj therefore created news, always being centre of it, and his temperamental nature further added further fuel. many even claim rightfully that he was exploited by the media.

In a unique way, he can befriend, belittle or battle against journalists. He often said many things openly only to deny, and risked on interviews. While, Dilip was wordy wise, often difficult to get anything from him at all! Both are this way journalists nightmare, to put it mildly. The angry young man image of Dhanraj is one thing one cannot deny.

From this perspective, Dilip Tirkey is vastly different. He was hardly in controversy. Despite playing for 15 years and had to work under as many as 20 coaches, to remain noncontroversial is simply an unthinkable aspect given the whim and fancy that form the hockey ecosystem of the country.

Its here Dilip scored.

Dilip never complained; over-worked, even boarded another flight within six hours of landing after another engagement (WC Qualifier in Ediburgh and then Sultan Azlan Shah). He did not think of conserving energy.

Like in life and also in hockey, Dilip scaled far greater than many of his contemporaries, not to speak of the former players. In his post playing career, Dilip became Member of Parliament and then now heading such a vital department as Odisha Tourism Development Coroporation.

Its in many ways the tortoise that won the race against rabbit.

Dilip never declined to tour, even when he was running hemoglobin count short in his blood!

He was never dropped in his long career.

Dhanraj Pillay on the other hand managed his engagement professionally, avoiding end to end Indian journey vis-a-vis domestic tournaments. Calcutta to Kovilpatti, Mumbai to Meerut kind of things.

The feature of course is that the duo presented a perfect team picture despite both appeared on extremes of the same spectrum


India won an Asia Cup and Asian Games title each with both in the team, a feat Pargat Singh-Jude Felix combination or MM Somaya-Md Shahid combination could not deliver in the preceding decades.

Its fitness of things that teams named after them is playing an exhibition match today on Tirkey's turf.

Note: This writer is extremely happy today, having penned biographies of both legends when they were still active on the international circuit. Even the reaction to that effort reflected their very persona. Dilip got it released at the hands of Chief Minister, the same Naveen Patnaik. Whereas Dhanraj took objection for a journalist making money out of his name and fame. Details of which are reserved for another occasion.

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