Birendra Lakra feels Ranchi Rays' defence is a big plus
Ranchi, Jan 8 (IANS)
Ranchi Rays defender Birendra Lakra said the team will rely on their strong defence to go all the way in the Hockey India League (HIL) starting 22nd January.
The 24-year-old Indian international, who will be turning up for his third HIL, plays a very crucial role in the team as an indestructible wall in front of the opponents' attacks.
In this edition, Birendra will be supported by Amit Rohidas, seasoned South African Justin Reid-Ross, senior Australian full-back Fergus Kavanagh along with new recruit Anand Lakra in the back line.
Good chance to reach knock-outs
"My objective will be restricting opponents' scoring chances and I believe that a strong defence is the base of a successful team. If I, Amit Rohidas, Justin Reid-Ross and Fergus Kavanagh manage clean sheets in our home matches, then our chances for the knock-outs become stronger," he said in a release.
Indian cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni-owned Ranchi will also benefit from their established players such as Ashley Jackson and Barry Middleton (both from England), Nicolas Wilson of New Zealand, German Moritz Furste along with new players Trent Mitton and Daniel Beale of Australia.
"This season again I feel, We are one of the title contenders keeping in mind the team we have in place. With the top class players like Ashley Jackson, Barry Middleton and Nicolas Wilson, we can maintain a winning momentum in the league," he said.
"They are very much motivated as the whole squad will be playing for the third season together. We all are practicing hard and maintaining our focus on preparations."
Bigger role this year
Last season, the Odisha player received several Man-of-the-Match awards for his stunning defensive performance which contributed to his team reaching the semi-finals. He also played a stellar role in helping his team clinch the title in 2013.
"This year I wish to play a bigger role for my team and am working on other areas like midfield duties and penalty corner conversions. I need to overcome my weaknesses in these areas and my added skills will surely help the team. This year will be very tough."
The third edition of the league will start 22nd January with Kalinga Lancers taking on Rays at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar in the opening match.