Autobiography of Hockey Wizard Dhyan Chand
Published by Sport & Pastime, Chennai, 1952
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My National Debut
|Let me quote from The Statesman of Kolkata: "The
outstanding forward on the field was UP centre-forward Dhyan Chand, who is
likely to be chosen for the Indian Olympic team.
The crowd had been waiting for Dhyan Chand to get going, and presently they were rewarded. Dhyan Chand demonstrated that as a centre-forward he has few equals. His dribbling was irresistible, and he seemed to pass opponent after opponent at will."
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n the opening day of the Inter-Provincial tournament, on February 13, 1928, Bengal played the Central Provinces (CP) and easily won by 5 goals to 1. We were there to witness the match. Bengal were one goal down at the interval, but their superiority was never in doubt. It appeared to me that the Bengal team was over-confident and rather underestimated the CP team.
Bengal captain F. C. Wells became ferocious after the interval. The equaliser was soon obtained to which Bengal added four more goals contributed by Frank Wells, Deefholts, Neil and Scott to win 5-1. The CP team was fairly good. Two of their players were later included in the Olympic team - Rocque and Norris.
That evening the Bengal Hockey Association organised a dance at the Wellington YMCA. Everybody asked me to come to the dance but I did not. I was told the next morning that I had missed some great fun. I do not think that I missed anything, but had it been today I would surely be the first person at the dance, not because I dance, but because cold beer would interest me.
On February 14, 1928, the United Provinces (UP) played Punjab. This was the first match in which I played civilian hockey for a civilian team, and as far as I am concerned, I will never forget this date or this match. Many things depended on this game with regard to my future hockey career. I was nervous for more than one reason.
Firstly, I was a stranger in the midst of a team for whom I had never played before. Secondly, the selectors of the UP team were there. They too had their doubts whether I would fit in, and if I did not, I felt they would be justified in replacing me with somebody else. Finally, somewhere in the stands were severely critical eyes watching every movement of mine to see if the reputation I had made in New Zealand had deteriorated in any way.
It was a memorable match which ended in a draw with each side scoring three goals. The way Punjab drew level with us was nothing short of a miracle. Let me quote from The Statesman of Kolkata:
"The UP team was leading by three goals to one, and there was only a minute left for play. Hopeless as the situation looked, Punjab never gave up trying, and scored a goal to reduce the arrears to one. The spectators applauded the goal, but only half-heartedly, as if paying tribute to a plucky side who they thought were fighting in vain. Indeed, there did not seem to be time for another goal. But Feroze Khan, the Punjab centre-forward, shot away for the UP goal straight from the bully-off, went through the opposing defence and had the ball in the net before anyone quite realized what was happening.
The outstanding forward on the field was Dhyan Chand, the UP centre-forward, who is likely to be chosen for the Indian team that is to visit England and play in the Olympic Games in Amsterdam. Dhyan Chand, in addition to his brilliant stickwork, was the main spring of his side's attack. The opposing centre-half, Eric Pinniger, was unable to hold Dhyan Chand in check, though he was very efficient when tackling the other attackers.
The crowd had been waiting for Dhyan Chand to get going, and presently they were rewarded. There came the period when Dhyan Chand demonstrated that as a centre-forward he has few equals. His dribbling was of the irresistible variety. He seemed to be able to pass opponent after opponent at will."
The above description will give you an idea of the most dramatic manner in which Punjab forced us to a replay. On February 15 two matches were played, the previous day's replay and Rajputana vs. Bengal. We beat Punjab by the odd goal in three in the replay. I must again fall back upon the newspaper for the match description:
"Dhyan Chand was giving judicious passes to his colleagues and Seaman, the outside-left, was playing a fine game. The close attention being paid to Dhyan Chand, although serving to keep that remarkable player more or less in confinement, weakened the watch on the remainder of the UP forward line. This flaw in the Punjab defence finally led to their undoing.
Dhyan Chand was playing the right game, being content to search for openings without trying to do too much on his own. He thus played a big part in the revival of his side's attack in the second half."
I entirely agree with what the newspaper said. The Punjab defence clean forgot that UP had a very clever forward line, and as you all know, out of this line Marthins and Seaman were later chosen for the Olympic team. Punjab paid heavily for this tactical error. We won by match by the odd goal in three and qualified for the final.
I could do nothing right in this match, not because I was playing badly, but because Eric Pinniger, the best centre-half this game has produced in this country in my time, played a complete policeman to me all the time. He would not let go of me, for he too had his prestige at stake. Pinniger was fighting for a place in the Olympic team as a centre-half, and if I remember right, he was captaining the Punjab team.
The following match was between Bengal and Rajputana. Bengal were the favourites that day, and in my opinion, the better team. But the better team always does not win the match. On this occasion also, I had the feeling that Bengal underestimated their opponents and ended up paying the penalty for it. Rajputana beat Bengal by two goals to one to enter the final.
Wizard Dhyan Chand in Full Flow