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FIH Hockey World Cup team preview - India

2.55K   //    08 May 2014, 18:04 IST

Sardar Singh

The Indian hockey team is currently gearing up for a big 2014. With the likes of the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games coming up, the Hockey World Cup in Hague, Netherlands will prove to be one tournament that could have a domino effect on the rest of the year.

The Indian squad is in a group that includes the mighty English and the overpowering Aussies. Besides these two European giants, the Indians will also have to keep a close eye on the unpredictable Belgians who will aim to be the giant killers in this event. Spain and Malaysia make up the other two teams in a very tough Group A.

The team just got done with a poor European tour which included losses to hosts Holland and Belgium. The squad will look to put aside these games and look ahead to the main tournament which gets underway on May 31st. Coach Terry Walsh says that India’s first league game against the Belgians will be crucial in deciding the team’s final outcome.

Let’s have a close look at a few Indian players who will be vital to the team’s success:

Sreejesh: After a disappointing Hockey India league, the team’s custodian will be aiming to keep the ball out of the net and ensure India keeps the opponent’s attack at bay. Being the vice captain, his leadership from the back and fast reflexes will be vital for India.

Rupinder Pal Singh: A very good option for Terry Walsh for penalty corners. His accuracy and strong tackling will be beneficial to the team’s progress in the tournament. He’s one bloke who has improved leaps and bounds over the year. His partnership with Raghunath will be important.

VR Raghunath: This Coorg lad has made his foray into the team like a wrecking ball. From being just a drag flicker, this Karnataka boy is now known for his defending capabilities also. His reading of the game is second to none and he’s also one who doesn’t shy away from a tackle or two.

Sardar Singh: After Dhanraj Pillay, there hasn’t been a player who could carry the tricolour with pride until this guy came in. He’s a leader and a great dictator of the game. He’s renowned for the use of his backhand pass. He can cover the entire length of the pitch and move from attack to defence with ease – an old school centre half indeed!

Manpreet Singh: A worthy successor to Sardar. He was captain of India’s Junior World Cup team who finished the tournament on a disappointing note. His dribbling skills and ability to be versatile will be important for Terry Walsh’s tactics.

Mandeep Singh: This player came into the spotlight in the inaugural Hockey India League. Now being India’s main forward, his finishing skills will be judged. It’s important for this young Punjab lad to not get overwhelmed on the grandest stage of all.

These 6 will be key to Terry Walsh’s plan for the World Cup. It’s left to see who’ll finally make it on the plane to the Hague which leaves on the 22nd of May.

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