Bangalore: They say fast bowlers hunt in pairs, but sometimes that is applicable to hockey as well aÂ" and certainly in the case of Dhanraj Pillay and Mukesh Kumar. They've played together in the last three Olympics and Dhanraj hopes that they can make it a fourth at Athens in 2004. And that wish might just come true with Mukesh all set to make a comeback to the team at the age of 35. Mukesh is readying himself for the four-nation hockey tournament to be held in Australia next month after being away from the scene following an injury in 2002. The veteran player has been instrumental in several Indian victories including one against Pakistan in Azlan Shah Cup in 1992, in the SAF Games in 1995 and then the Bangkok Games in 1998. In the last 13 years, he has played for India in three Olympics, two Asian Games and two world championships. Even today, Mukesh feels just as fit. "I was awarded the Padma Shri this year. It is a great honour that the country has bestowed on me and I would like to repay that gesture," he said. Questions have been raised over retaining old players in the team but the partnership of right-out Mukesh Kumar and Dhanraj Pillai have resulted in many a wins for India. Coach Rajinder Singh feels that there is place for both experienced and new talent in the team provided they are fit. "If these players are able to keep themselves fit till the Olympics then the team will definitely need them. As for old and new players, the young ones can always benefit from playing with the more experienced ones," said Singh. And it is this experience that may be instrumental in getting India a medal at the Athens Olympics.
Topics : Hockey