Hockey World Cup 2018: 5 drag flickers to look out for
The 14th edition of the FIH Men's Hockey World Cup is all set to commence from 28 November at the iconic Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar. With major overhauls in the format, as well as the outlook of the game, this shall be the first World Cup to be played under the modern 4 quarter format.
Apart from the 4 quarter format, this is the first World Cup which shall be played on the blue turf with the yellow ball. Also, this shall be the first world cup that will not have the classic 12 teams divided into two pools, with only top 2 teams progressing into the final four, but gives an equal chance to all the 16 teams to stake their claim on the World Cup.
With 16 teams divided into four pools each, the teams topping each pool shall proceed directly to the quarterfinals. The other two teams of each pool would play against each other in a crossover, where the winning team would proceed to the quarterfinals. This format was extremely successful when launched in the Women's World Cup 2018, where we got an unlikely runner-up in Ireland, who stormed into the finals, surprising teams like India and Spain on the trot.
While eyes are set on every player, without doubt, the star attraction would be the drag flickers, who are known to be the trump card for any team. Able to fling balls into the goals at speeds of over 120-125 km / hr., drag flickers have been the trump card for any hockey team.
Introduced by Australians in the 1980s, this crucial, sometimes even lethal art, has gained immense popularity throughout the world of hockey. With legendary players like Taeke Taekema, Sandeep Singh, Chris Ciriello, Vokkaliga Ramchandra Raghunath displaying their talent on the field, drag flicking.
As the much-awaited FIH World Cup begins for the third time on Indian soil from 28th November, following are some of the drag flickers, whose exploits will be eagerly observed by every hockey lover during the upcoming World Cup:
#5 Varun Kumar
From rags to riches, this Indian defender's journey to fame has been nothing less than inspiring. Hailing from the same village of Mithapur near Jalandhar, Punjab as his idols Pargat Singh and Manpreet Singh, this young defender has risen up the ranks in a very short time frame.
Coming from a family where his father could afford a bare hand to mouth existence as an autorickshaw driver, this drag flicker overcame poverty and other difficulties to rise as a star for his team, when he played an important role in the victory of the Indian team at the Junior Hockey World Cup 2016, their first title in 15 years.
Even though he hasn't found much success initially in terms of a senior level at the Commonwealth Games, Varun is the 'dark horse' that none can dare to underestimate.