Odisha’s Kalinga Stadium will have a rare honor of welcoming the legends of Indian hockey coming October 10 for an exhibition match. The reason – To mark the inauguration of a newly-refurbished Kalinga Stadium. The match will commence at 7 pm.

The battle is set to be held between sides captained by two of Indian hockey ‘s most prolific former captains, Dhanraj Pillay and Dilip Tirkey. Along with past players, certain current national team players will lock horns as well.

Dhanraj Pillay’s playing XI: Viren Rasquinha, Sardar Singh, Prabhjot Singh, PR Sreejesh, Chinglensana Singh Kangujam, and Harmanpreet Singh. Team Coach: Harendra Singh

Dilip Tirkey’s playing XI: Jugraj Singh, Ignace Tirkey, Manpreet Singh, Mandeep Singh, Amit Rohidas and Rupinder Pal Singh. Team Coach: Chris Sirilo

The event will be a good test for the Sports Association of Odisha operated stadium which hosts Men’s Hockey World Cup from 28. Odisha Chief Minister, Naveen Patnaik, will inaugurate the refurbished hockey arena.

Dhanraj Pillay, a former Indian hockey striker, and the captain said that Odisha Government was breathing a new life into hockey. He also thanked the government for organizing such initiatives.

Pillay & Tikrey: The Gems Indian Hockey

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Dilip Tirkey (second from left) and Dhanraj Pillay (third from left) Image Credit

Both have been India hockey captains, both played for the Indian Airlines and both pursued political careers after their retirement. But the similarity between Dhanraj Pillay and Dilip Tirkey ends there.

Dhanraj Pillay, born on 16 July 1968, was one of the best strikers of his generation. On the other hand, Tirkey, born a decade later, was the best fullback of his.

While Pillay was born in the metro city of Pune, Tirkey was born in a tribal area in the Sundargarh District in Orissa. Both were from lower middle class family backgrounds.

After breaking into the hockey scene early in his career, Pillay went on to feature in 339 international matches for India, scoring 170 goals. In fact, he is the only player to feature in four Olympics, World Cups and Champions trophy each.

In contrast, Tirkey suffered from a series of leg injuries, especially late in his career. As a result, he spent long stretches of time on sidelines, unlike Pillay. Nevertheless, he is the only tribal (adivasi) to represent India at three Olympics.

Most probably, the highlight of Pillay and Tirkey the 4-2 victory against bitter rivals Pakistan to clinch the 2003 Asia Cup gold. The win was a perfect revenge for the 4-2 loss that the Indians suffered against Pakistan in the group stage.

They will play on the same turf for the first time in 14 years, albeit against each other. Thus, the match between Dhanraj Pillay and Dilip Tirkey will be iconic in the truest sense.

Kalinga Stadium

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The Renovated Kalinga Stadium Image: Credit

The Kalinga Stadium is a multipurpose stadium located in Bhubaneshwar, Odisha. It has facilities to host basketball, athletics, basketball, field hockey, tennis, soccer, table tennis, volleyball, wall climbing, and swimming.

Other features of the stadium include an 8-lane synthetic athletics track, a sports hostel, and a gymnasium.

The venue will see repaired practice and the main turf. Also, new spectator galleries have been built at the north and south end. This has led to an increase in the capacity from the earlier capacity of 8,500 to 15,000.

The refurbished hockey facility is also India’s first newly built Olympic standard pink and blue hockey turf.

The main purpose of the heavy investment in the facilities, according to the officials, is to augment the tourism industry in the state. It also aimed at the projecting Odisha among the best sporting states in the country.

Reflecting this Vishal Dev, Commissioner and Secretary of Department of Sports and Youth Services, Odisha government said that the refurbished Kalinga Stadium will offer the best of facilities to both players and fans.

Earlier this year, the Kalinga Stadium successfully hosted it’s first ever Indian Super League match. (Jamshedpur FC vs Bengaluru) It demonstrated the upward trajectory in the state host top-notchotch sports events in recent times.

Monish Gadiya is a Pune-based sports author at KreedOn. He is a thorough tech-enthusiast and believes innovation is the answer to the problems prevalent in the society. Monish graduated from University of Pune with a degree in civil engineering before pursuing a post-graduate diploma course in creative writing and intellectual property rights. A die-hard football fan, he has represented his college at various football competitions.

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