Video analyst Ashok Kumar narrates the hockey bronze story

The Indian video analyst had one-on-one sessions with the players on strategy which helped clinch the bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics.

Video analyst C. Ashok Kumar had one-on-one sessions with the players on strategy.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Penalty corner combines delicate touch and accuracy with the brutal power of a drag-flicker. 

In other words, it is a tango of a ballet and a boxer’s sledgehammer blow. And the Indian men excelled with their penalty corners during the side’s memorable bronze medal run in the Tokyo Olympics. 

Travelling right into the heart of the historic hockey campaign, the side’s video analyst C. Ashok Kumar told Sportstar, “Everyone knew Rupinder Pal Singh and Harmanpreet took our penalty corners.” He elaborated, “But by adding Varun Kumar and Amit Rohidas to our list of potent penalty corner takers, we managed to confuse our opponents. They could not plan.”

Ashok Kumar noted, “Our penalty corners had speed, accuracy and power. And then we tried different variations, we were quick on the rebounds.”

Having worked with the men’s and women’s junior National teams, the 30-year-old Ashok Kumar, a defender who represented Nilgiris in hockey apart from being a qualified umpire, joined the senior team in 2019.

Ashok Kumar said the role of the “first rusher,” was most crucial in stopping penalty corners. “He has to give the drag-flicker as little time as possible. Then, of course, our goalkeeper Sreejesh was outstanding.”

Providing an insight into the team’s commitment, he said, “I would be off every morning at 7 a.m and would return to the room, we had to watch all the matches, well past midnight. Still, our senior players would be waiting for me to get inputs and watch the videos of our opponents.”

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Ashok Kumar passed on valuable information. He revealed, “Britain had two guys who took penalty corners and each one would hit to the different part of the cage. I gave inputs to Sreejesh on this ahead of the quarterfinal. It worked.”

The Indian video analyst had one-on-one sessions with the players on strategy. “The weather was hot and humid. We could not go all out in these conditions. We had to hold the ball.”

He said the team erred in going defensive after having the better of the exchanges till half-time against Belgium in the semifinal but was relieved that the side picked itself up for the bronze medal play-off. “We were spot on with our tactics against Germany. Whenever they raised the tempo and attempted to play fast hockey, we slowed down the game. This denied them rhythm while we could still hit them on the break."

Ashok Kumar summed up the experience stating that the cohesion between the defence, the midfield and the forwards was excellent. The skill matched the toughness of mind. 

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