Junior Hockey World Cup: Drag-flickers Harmanpreet Singh and Varun Kumar combining to form lethal partnership
India defeated England 5-3 on Saturday to claim their second win in a row at the 2016 Junior Hockey World Cup. Despite conceding first, India fought and rallied to render a number of counter-attacks to eventually take control of proceedings.
While the whole team as a unit deserve credit for two dominating and thrilling performances, a fact that has been noticed by many is how crucial the two Indian drag-flickers have been in converting passes to goals in the final third.
Drag-flickers Harmanpreet Singh and Varun Kumar are two players with an age gap of three years between them, and despite being the younger of the two, Harmanpreet has already experienced playing in the senior team when he travelled with the squad for the Rio Olympics 2016.
Drag-flicking in hockey is an art in itself, a skill, a bonus, and therefore a privilege. Even though he is new to drag-flicking, Varun has shown an immense ability and potential at the job.
In conversation with DNA India, Varun said, “I'm trying to learn the art of taking penalty corners." The only penalty corner scorer for India in the tournament, Varun. considers this opportunity of learning this skill as a stepping stone in graduating to the senior squad.
His drag-flicking counterpart, Singh, however, is already well trained and established in the particular skill and is ready to improve. According to him, the area he needs to improve at the moment is his physicality and hence he goes through special drills separately from the team.
“It's not an easy job (penalty-corners), for sure. If entire team comes at 5 pm for practice, I try and be there on field at 4 pm to do some extra drills required for my specific job,” he told DNA India.
“It was bit disappointing when I failed to convert any of the penalty corners against Canada. But then we all celebrated when Varun scored one,” said the skipper who already has three goals in his belt in the tournament.
However, despite the competition, Harmanpreet considers anyone’s contribution to the team as the main priority and not just his.
"It's like a camaraderie… Whether I score or Varun, it means the same for the team. The ultimate aim is to contribute to the team's success," said Harmanpreet.
While Harmanpreet has been crucial in this area of the particular game, his defending companion, Varun Kumar has proved vital in intercepting opponent’s passes and orchestrating counter-attacks, an aspect where the Indian team has continued to look dangerous.
Hence, the idea of Harmanpreet and Varun taking their drag-flicking competition to the senior side isn’t too farfetched.