Until a few seasons ago, India’s hockey fortunes hinged on this sardar’s shoulders, the spearhead being one of the most recognised faces in the national team. However, former India forward Rajpal Singh is out of the India mix which perhaps explained why his presence at the PCA stadium for IPL matches have gone largely unnoticed.
Now, a cricket venue in the grip of IPL is an unlikely place to find a former India hockey skipper; but Rajpal was answering the call of duty. He is a deputy superintendent with Punjab Police and was posted in Mohali a year ago. His team provides the inner circle of security to the cricketers.
“Hockey is still very much part of my life. I practice in the morning before coming for work. Besides, I regularly play for the Punjab Police team,” Rajpal said.
Rajpal said the madness around cricket was nothing new as he has experienced the same electric atmosphere while playing in Chandigarh in the now-defunct Premier Hockey League (PHL) and representing the country.
“The crowds used to get quite involved during some of the matches and that frenzy is something I have experienced as a player,” Rajpal added.
The forward is treating the job as a fresh beginning.
“You see, in cricket if a player scores a century in the first innings, he doesn’t get any rest in the second. He has to come out and contribute. Similarly, I gave it all when I played for the country, so I now want to do my best in my new stint. This is my second innings. I am enjoying my job. As a player, we had to handle the pressure of public expectations and we dealt with it by performing. Now we deal with it by ensuring that we do our best in the interest of the public.”
Rajpal may have stayed under the radar as far as IPL players and the local franchise, KXIP, are concerned, but Rajpal is pleased people in the crowd do recognise him.