Now that the Indian hockey team has clinched an unprecedented silver medal at the FIH Champions Trophy, less than two months ahead of Rio Olympics 2016, it is safe to say that the figurative rise from the ashes has finally happened. As the focus shifts to the upcoming Summer Games, it’s high time the fans got themselves more familiarised with the Indian hockey heroes of the moment.
Here’s a look at our stars who shone brightly for India at the just concluded 2016 FIH Hockey Champions Trophy in London:
#1 Sreejesh Parattu Raveendran – Goalkeeper
“Sreejesh saves!”, “Sreejesh saves again.”, “And it’s Sreejesh to the rescue!” – The acting captain in Sardara Singh’s absence kept the commentators busy with his matchwinning goalkeeping almost every time he took the field. Aptly called ‘The Wall’, P R Sreejesh singlehandedly kept India in contention till the last moment of the championship as he prevented countless blinders and well-placed penalty corners from finding the back of the net.
#2 Vikas Dahiya – Goalkeeper
India’s struggle to find a suitable backup goalie for Sreejesh was temporarily alleviated when they named Vikas Dahiya to replace Akash Chikte and Harjot Singh who hadn’t looked much convincing during the course of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup 2016. Vikas starred in India’s win against South Korea that lifted them to 2nd place in the points’ table.
#3 Raghunath Vokkaliga Ramachandra – Fullback
India’s main man when it comes to penalty corners, Vokkaliga Raghunath showed outstanding tenacity in his role as a fullback for which he had earlier come under severe criticism. Alongside scoring two crucial penalty corner goals, Raghunath was rock-solid in defence throughout the tournament.
#4 Khadangbam Kothajit Singh – Halfback
The narrow results would not have gone India’s way without the contribution of Kothajit. The Manipur-man silently made crunch tackles around the Indian circle and fed the ball forward to create more and more chances.
#5 Surender Kumar – Halfback
Another key factor in India’s favourable results – Haryana defender Surender Kumar’s consistency at the back line.
#6 Pardeep Mor – Defender
A relatively young inclusion to the Indian side, Pardeep Mor has 8 caps under his belt. Although he conceded a few undesirable penalty corners, what matters is the success in preventing the ball from going into the Indian goal – something Pardeep achieved on multiple occasions.