Lacrosse and hockey fuse as Gawkar adds new dimension to 3D skills

Darshan Gawkar had performed out the state of affairs in his head, and in coaching, many occasions over.

In Bangalore, the place he was with India’s junior and ‘A’ groups for the nationwide camps, the 21-year-old attacker would run round 40m on the turf whereas balancing the ball on the stick after the every day classes concluded. He’d carry the ball and lob it into the purpose, and even strive a couple of physique feints to confuse the goalkeeper.

With this improvisation, Gawkar was taking one of many best arts of contemporary hockey – the 3D expertise – a notch increased.

And final week, through the bronze medal playoff of the Nationwide Video games in Rajkot, all these hours of practising alone led to a second of unbelievable audacity.

Maharashtra and Haryana have been degree at 2-2 after regulation time, forcing the match right into a tie-breaker. After the shootouts acquired underway, Gawkar noticed that the Haryana goalkeeper wasn’t committing himself an excessive amount of ahead. He’d take a few steps and await the attacker, as a substitute of closing him down. This gave him an opportunity to execute the trick he’d practiced so much however by no means utilized in a match.

“If he can be coming ahead, I’d must search for whereas operating. That would’ve taken my focus off the ball and affected the stability. As a result of he stayed in a single place, I didn’t have to fret about his positioning and will consider my run,” Gawkar, who performs for BPCL in home hockey, says.

When his flip got here, Gawkar lifted the ball somewhat over knee peak proper from the beginning of his run-up and continued to march ahead with out letting it drop. After round 12 lengthy strides – whereas bending ahead and balancing the ball on the stick – he got here inside a few yards of the goalkeeper. Simply then, Gawkar did a physique faux and pretended that he was turning to the suitable to throw the goalkeeper off stability earlier than lobbing it over his helpless opponent.

The ball bounced as soon as earlier than crossing the purpose line as Gawkar, who was within the India ‘A’ camp for the Commonwealth Video games however didn’t seem for the choice trials after his sister handed away, unfold his arms extensive open and launched into an aeroplane celebration.

It was extra lacrosse than hockey.

A easy ‘lacrosse vs hockey’ Google search throws up somewhat greater than 46 million ends in lower than a second. The 2 sports activities, though very totally different, appear comparable. In lacrosse, the gamers swirl the ball within the web of its stick whereas operating not like in hockey, the place a lot of the motion takes place on the bottom.

As a substitute of the online, it was the blade of Gawkar’s stick and for these few seconds when he ran with the ball, the principles blurred.

Hockey went 3D fairly a while in the past. As the great defending sides began bending decrease and decrease whereas defending – a lot in order that their fingers would get bruised by rubbing towards the floor and the sticks can be kissing the turf to make sure the ball doesn’t go previous – the attackers needed to provide you with new methods to beat them.

So, they started to carry the ball barely. And to keep away from going straight on the defender, which might make it harmful play and therefore a foul, the gamers began to dribble the ball within the air to vary the course of their run and go across the defender. The artwork of fixing the course of the ball mid-air creates an phantasm of kinds, therefore the identify ‘3D’.

SV Sunil. (Categorical FILE)

This ability additionally helps gamers to create space for themselves inside a crowded ‘D’.

Former Australia ahead Jamie Dwyer is taken into account top-of-the-line exponents of this. He learnt it by watching former Spain ahead Santi Freixa use it. Among the many present gamers, Argentina’s Agustin Mazzili is rated extremely, and he impressed India’s SV Sunil to be taught and excellent this ability. Sunil, at his peak, was thought-about one of many best 3D dribbles.

Gawkar, who’s the most recent from Mumbai-based coach Merzban Patel’s limitless manufacturing line, picked up the ability by watching all these gamers. However he wished to offer it his personal spin. “I considered doing one thing totally different. So, I began to run lengthy distances by balancing the ball on the stick and beating the goalkeeper,” he says.

It’s a tactic that’ll be extra deadly in shootouts than within the open play, the place there’s a threat of being stopped for harmful play if the ball goes above the knee peak.

And the shootouts, over time, have been rife with such audacious experiments. In 2019, as an example, South Korea’s most skilled participant Lee Nam-yong stepped ahead to take the decisive penalty within the ultimate of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup towards India.

The 35-year-old started his run from the 23m line and continued to march straight in direction of Krishan Pathak after coming into the ‘D’, giving an impression he’ll attempt to nutmeg the rookie goalkeeper. However as he reached the penalty spot, Lee casually lifted the ball along with his stick and dinked it over Pathak, straight into the purpose.

It was as spectacular as Gawkar’s purpose. Nevertheless it was the Indian’s means to stability the ball on the stick proper by way of that made it extra audacious.

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