India must go all out in Champions Trophy, says former stalwart Ashok Kumar
The Indian team management may be happy adopting the ‘resting key players on a rotation basis’ strategy in tournaments such as the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup as well as in the FIH Champions Trophy in London.
However, former Indian hockey stalwart Ashok Kumar – son of legendary late Dhyan Chand – believes the national selectors should have picked a full-strength for the Champions Trophy.
“I think it is not right to experiment too much with the Olympics just two months away. I don’t know why players have to be rested as they are not playing so many tournaments like our cricketers play during the year. I think it was a wrong move to rest players for Sultan Azlan Shah Cup and now for the FIH Champions Trophy,” he makes no bones about his dissatisfaction over resting of players.
The Roelant Oltmans-coached Indian side had rested the likes of goalkeeper PR Sreejesh, drag-flicker Vokkaliga Raghunath and Akashdeep Singh at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia, and subsequently rested regular skipper Sardar Singh, drag-flicker Rupinder Pal Singh and Ramandeep Singh for the FIH Champions Trophy.
The 66-year-old, who is famously remembered for scoring India’s match-winning goal against Pakistan in the 1975 World Cup final in Kuala Lumpur, feels that the services of an in-form Sardar Singh should have been utilised in the FIH Champions Trophy. “Sardar Singh is in great form – I saw him play at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup and there is little doubt that he is the world’s best centre-half and I’m not sure whether the guys who will replace him in London will be able to hold their own.”
The four-time World Cupper says India must go all out in the FIH Champions Trophy. “Look, we are not Australia, Germany or the Netherlands who are strong contenders to win the gold or silver medal at the Rio Olympics – teams that can afford to play their cards close to their chest. India should have fielded their best team in London – they should go for the jugular and try to make a big impression in the FIH Champions Trophy and force their opponents to put their thinking caps on in the run-up to the Rio Olympics,” Kumar calls spade a spade.