Saturday, July 02, 2016

Hockey legend Muhammad Shahid's dribbling artistry: Remembering golden era of Indian hockey and how cricket eclipsed the national sport

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Hockey legend Mohammad Shahid belonged to the generation when hockey matches evoked huge interest and the game was still a national passion.

Shahid played international hockey till late 80s, almost the era when Gavaskar had retired and Tendulkar was arriving on the cricket scene.

Shahid's electrifying presence on the field and his dribbling, made him a national hero.

India was down 0-3 to Holland in the epic match, people had turned off TVs and radios, and in the last three minutes, Shahid, Merwyn Fernandes, Carvalho turned the game with four goals within 4-5 minutes, and we eventually won [Year 88?, if I am wrong please correct].

I still remember the adrenaline rush, yes, it happened watching or listening to commentary of hockey matches then. The feeling after the sensation win among crowd and across the country, was indescribable.

But times had changed. After that, such euphoria was only reserved for cricket wins. Shahid was ranked one of the best forwards and was named along with Stefan Blotcher, Ric Charlesworth and Hasan Sardar [Pakistan].

Everyone remembers how after losing the series to India, Hasan Sardar had famously said that, "we have lost to Shahid". Siddharth Saxena in his article reminisces how Hasan Sardar was furious as "Shahid, the genius dribbler, would push the ball between Sardar's legs and then drew it back", something that frustrated the famed player.

Forgotten Folklore

Hockey is our national game. We no longer talk about hockey folklore--Moscow Olympic gold & World cup-Champions trophy performances though cricket world cup of 1979 and 1983 are discussed all the time.

Hockey was national game but TV had stopped paying attention to it. Unlike cricket, money was not coming in. It was common to complain that tiny Holland had 125 astro turfs and India had just 4-1/2.

No wonder, even the era that is not so distant past, is being termed a 'long lost forgotten era'.
Shahid remained in his beloved Benares [Varanasi] and never cared for post-retirement glory, lived away from limelight in his city. Praying for his long life.

[This post was written earlier. Md Shahid couldn't recover from the illness and breathed his last in the Delhi hospital]