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3 players who must impress in the Pro League in order to make it to Tokyo 2020

The internal competition is hotting up ahead of Tokyo 2020
The internal competition is hotting up ahead of Tokyo 2020
FEATURED COLUMNIST
Modified 30 Jan 2020
Feature

Getting to represent the country at the Olympics is a dream achievement for any athlete and hockey is no exception. The eight Olympic titles are now history as the Indians have not won gold since Moscow 1980 and have not made it to the semifinals since Munich 1972 (as the Moscow Games did not involve a semifinal).

That said, the Indians have been on the path to ascendancy over the last five years or so after having moved up the ranking ladder to be counted amongst the top sides in world hockey.

It's Olympic year once again - but only the best can hope to make it to Tokyo and, for once, the Indian coaching staff have a plethora of talent available for selection - particularly, in a couple of departments.

The ability of the Indian forwards to strike fear in the minds of the opposition thanks to the fast counterattacking skills is what sets them apart - and, the competition for places up front is huge.

From SV Sunil and Lalit Upadhyaya to Ramandeep and Mandeep Singh, there are an array of options to choose from while the places on offer aren't as many.

In the drag-flick department, the Indians are fortunate to have a four-man PC battery; however, not all the drag-flickers may find a place in the final squad as the internal battle for spots hots up ahead of the Olympics.

We take a look at three individuals who will need strong Pro League performances in order to be included in the final squad for the Olympic Games.


Rupinder needs to continue doing well in the Pro League
Rupinder needs to continue doing well in the Pro League

#3 Rupinder Pal Singh

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Not so long ago, the mainstay of the drag-flick department, Rupinder lost his place after a few disappointing outings in 2018 and has been in and out of the side ever since.

Indian hockey's poster boy was not part of the team that won silver in the Champions Trophy at Breda and Bobby failed to make it to the World Cup as well.

In Rupinder's absence, the Indian drag-flickers spearheaded by Harmanpreet Singh performed admirably with Varun Kumar chipping in when needed.

Adding variety and the element of surprise was Amit Rohidas.

As India's Analytical Coach and master drag-flicker, Chris Ciriello, mentioned to Sportskeeda in an earlier interview, the best drag-flickers are always on the radar of the opposition coaches who analyse every move forcing the PC specialists to change their strategy on a continuous basis.

As was evident from India's Pro League opener against the Netherlands, the Indian think-tank pinned their faith on Rupinder to surprise the opposition with his drag flicks and the move paid rich dividends.

It will be interesting to see which of the drag-flickers are called upon in the upcoming Pro League matches against Belgium and Australia, but Rupinder has a lot more to do to cement his place in the team considering that Varun Kumar will return at some point which will give the selectors a lot to think about.

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Published 30 Jan 2020, 12:34 IST
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