London Olympics are just a little more than a month away and most of the teams have started disclosing their sides as Hockey India have also come out with the Indian side for the tournament. Let us take a look at the five Indian players with who will play a major role in India’s Olympics campaign in hockey:
1. Bharat Chetri -
A loss in form of India’s first choice keeper PR Sreejesh means the Indian captain, who usually played second fiddle to Sreejesh earlier, will go to the Olympics as the first choice goalkeeper backed by impressive performance on the blue turf. With Indian defense still making mistakes, Bharat Chetri will have to play a key role in India’s Olympics campaign. At the time when Sreejesh’s form is becoming erratic, 30 year old Chetri is improving his performance at every opportunity provided. In Sultan Azlan Shah Cup too, India won all the games in which he was the custodian and it’s his positioning and agility that has been allowing the Indian team to keep on attacking without worrying much on defensive front. With him at the post, Indian team has a good opportunity to go forward and score goals. No doubt, the captain of the Indian team will play a major part in India’s push for Olympics glory.
2. Sardara Singh -
There is no doubt about the fact that Sardara Singh will play the biggest role for Indian team at the Olympics. Whenever Sardara plays well, the team plays well too and whenever he has an off game, the problems for the team increase. The most important player of the squad, Sardara Singh will have to help the Indian team in all the areas as a major part of India’s planning is done around him and his performance will be vital for the team’s success. Sardara Singh will start for India in the midfield but he will have to play as a defender, midfielder and as a forward in a team where he is the most creative and bankable player of the lot. Sardara’s major role will be that of a defender where he will have to bail out the Indian defense from time to time and allow other players to move forward.
3. Gurbaj Singh -
With Sardara Singh spending most of his on-field time in Indian defense, 27 year old Gurbaj Singh will have to take Sardara’s role in the midfield and hold it firm. Technically sound and creative, Gurbaj Singh’s role will be to support both Indian attack and come down to help the defense. Coming straight back into the side for Sultan Azlan after the knee injury, he has made his presence felt and linked up very well with SV Sunil and created lots of chances for the Indian forwards in attack. In the bronze medal match against Great Britain, he looked extremely comfortable on the ball and made some great passes for SV Sunil. In defense too, Gurbaj Singh kept the English at bay and made some vital saves in the game. His return gives India an advantage and stability in the middle.
4. SV Sunil -
After suffering a knee injury in 2010 that nearly ended his career, SV Sunil’s return has been a boon for the Indian team. A player gifted with blistering pace(nearly matching Dhanraj Pillay) and sharpness, SV Sunil has the responsibility of carrying Indian attack on his shoulders. Totally unpredictable, his runs have terrorized defenders of in the opposition. His electrifying goal against Pakistan in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup tells a lot about his character and his never-say-die attitude, SV Sunil will lead the Indian attack in the Olympics and is surely going to play a crucial role in India’s Olympics campaign.
5. VR Raghunath -
A year ago, you wouldn’t have wanted to even see him in the team but today he is one of the most important defenders in the squad. His defending has improved drastically and he is currently the best defender of the Indian team. With Sandeep Singh not getting enough time to play and staying on the bench, Raghunath is also becoming India’s main weapon during penalty corners. Raghunath’s good form and improvement will be great relief for the Indian coach Michael Nobbs who was worried about Indian defense. His defending and penalty corner will be key for the Indian team at Olympics.