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Hockey World Cup 2018: 5 standout players for India in the pool stages

Varun
Varun's drag-flick led to the penalty stroke against Belgium
FEATURED COLUMNIST
Modified 11 Dec 2018
Top 5 / Top 10
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At Bhubaneswar, the Indians are without two of their key strikers.

SV Sunil, who has the agility and the guile to outmaneuver the best defensive units on his day, and Ramandeep Singh, whose incisional assists and opportunistic strikes are well known in the hockey world, are sadly not part of the unit that are currently endeavoring to scale a peak which Indian teams in the recent past have failed to conquer.

Sardar Singh is also not available to man the Indian midfield but it is indeed quite remarkable that in spite of the absence of a few men who have been an indispensable part of the national team, the Indians have earned a direct ticket to the World Cup quarterfinals ahead of the higher-ranked Belgians in Pool C.

Harendra Singh's team have had an unbeaten run thus far in a World Cup that has already witnessed a fair share of upsets - and credit is due no doubt to a young, skillful, and determined bunch who truly believe that they can go all the way.

Ever since Mandeep Singh scored an early opening goal against South Africa to steady the nerves of his teammates, and the nation, every single player of the eighteen-member squad has done his bit for the cause of the side.

We take a look at the performance of five Indian players whose contributions have been truly outstanding, and whose efforts have been significant in influencing the final outcome of the pool matches at the Hockey World Cup.


#5 Varun Kumar

Varun was rightfully given the Man Of The Match award in the match against Belgium
Varun was rightfully given the Man Of The Match award in the match against Belgium

Varun Kumar was at Gold Coast, Breda, Jakarta, and Muscat. What's more, he was part of the team that began the year by playing in the Four-Nations Invitational in New Zealand and has been tidying up near the backline, helping to convert defence into attack, and sending in some scorching drag-flicks as well.

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Ever since making his mark in the Asia Cup at Dhaka last year, Varun Kumar has cemented his place in the Indian squad and is the only player to have been selected for every major tournament this year.

When India was trailing In the crucial encounter against Belgium, it was Varun's powerful drag-flick that resulted in the penalty stroke which fellow-defender Harmanpreet scored from midway through the third quarter.

The equaliser changed the complexion of the game as the Indians changed gear and dominated the proceedings for the rest of the match.

Short corners have played a vital role at Bhubaneswar thus far, and in Rupinder's absence Varun might well be required to fire in a few more in the knockouts that follow.

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Published 11 Dec 2018, 16:44 IST
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