Top 5 hockey players who made India proud in 2017

Hero Hockey League World Final - Day 10
Indian hockey team

2017 has been a relatively good year for Indian hockey. Barring an average show at the FIH Hockey World League Semifinals 2017, held at Lee Valley Tennis and Hockey Centre, London, the Indian hockey team has impressed the spectators and the critics alike, having won the Asia Cup, as well as securing a podium finish in both the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup and the FIH Hockey World League.

On the other hand, the women's hockey team has also shown a brilliant improvement in their play, and has shown signs of revival by winning the Women's Asia Cup, also securing a direct qualification to the upcoming Women's Hockey World Cup by winning the tournament.

The following is a list of the top 5 Indian hockey players who've made India proud in 2017

#5 Akashdeep Singh

Akashdeep Singh
Akashdeep Singh

The gutsy forward, who plays currently for the Uttar Pradesh Wizards, has managed to keep his image intact as the dependable forward for the Indian men's team, having scored for the team whenever needed.

The only thing that he misses is the support of the defenders, which often diminishes the charm of his brilliant stickwork, as it was at Rio Olympics, where despite Akashdeep scoring the lead in the first half of the quarterfinals, the defenders threw both the match and a possible podium finish away, losing 1-3 to Belgium and finishing a disappointing 8th.

Even though this wasn't the best year for the forward, Akashdeep still managed to push the ball in at crucial moments in tournaments like Asia Cup, FIH Hockey World League, etc. We hope that 2018 brings out the best in him.

#4 Mandeep Singh

Mandeep Singh in action
Mandeep Singh in action

Who could say that this brilliant player, all of 22 years old, has 2 FIH World Hockey League bronze medals, a FIH 2016 Hockey Champions Trophy silver medal, an Asia Cup gold, and a Junior Hockey World Cup gold in his bag?

Yet this devious forward has had a brilliant year of his own in 2017, having scored the most goals for India at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, where India won a bronze medal, and sharing the position for the top goalscorer with Australian stalwarts Tom Craig and Trent Mitton.

Having played brilliantly, both as a player and an able teammate, Mandeep ended the year on a bit sour note, when his aggression in the bronze medal match for the FIH Hockey World League against Germany went a bit over the top, and he was awarded a yellow card.

One hopes that Mandeep keeps his wilder instincts under control, as he aims to end the medal drought for India at the FIH Hockey World Cup.

#3 Rupinder Pal Singh

Rupinder Pal Singh
Rupinder Pal Singh

While it wasn't the best of the years for one of the world's best drag flickers, Rupinder did manage to salvage his image with a brilliant performance at the FIH Hockey World League Final 2017. The cheeky 27-year old fullback didn't exactly convert too many goals in important tournaments, but the ones he did, especially under pressure, were sheer class, reminding some of the brilliance that his ex-teammate, Sandeep Singh, once sported.

Incidentally, wherever India struck big in major tournaments, it was Rupinder Pal Singh, who had a major role to play in it. He scored two goals for India when they won a bronze at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.

He also scored both in the match and in the subsequent penalty shoot out against Belgium in the quarterfinals of the FIH Hockey World League Final 2017, where India shocked Belgium by defeating them 3-2. Incidentally, Rupinder Pal Singh was the joint top goalscorer with Harmanpreet Singh

#2 Savita Punia

Savita Punia
Savita Punia

This goalkeeper deserves a special mention in the list, for her heroics at the Women's Hockey Asia Cup, where she saved the final goal of Liang Meiyu to not only give India her first Women's Asia Cup in 13 years, but also secure a direct ticket to the upcoming Women's Hockey World Cup in 2018.

The 'Lady Sreejesh', who hails from Sirsa, Haryana, has contributed to the Indian team whenever needed. Her superb saves helped in India attaining the 5th position in the FIH Hockey World League Semifinals 2015, which enabled India to qualify for the women's hockey tournament in Rio Olympics, 2016, a feat they managed to achieve after 36 years. She has also managed a bronze medal for the Indian team at the Incheon Asian Games, ending a drought of 8 years.

We hope to see more of her in the upcoming year, and wish that she makes India proud in the tournaments like Women's Hockey World Cup, Asian Games, Commonwealth Games etc.

#1 Harmanpreet Singh

FIH Men's Hero Hockey Champions Trophy 2016 - Day Six
Harmanpreet Singh

Another brilliant drag flicker in the team, whose heroics gave India her first and historic silver medal at the FIH Champions Trophy 2016, as well as a historical Junior Hockey World Cup 2016, Harmanpreet Singh, who plays as a defender for Dabang Mumbai in Hockey India League, has had a very successful year in 2017, and is one of the top rated players for India this year.

This drag flicker from Amritsar has had a blast, having scored 3 goals in Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, 6 goals in the FIH Hockey World League Semifinals, and emerged as the top goalscorer with 7 goals in the 2017 Hockey Asia Cup.

Although he had a not too impressive campaign at the FIH Hockey World League Finals, he salvaged his image quickly enough by scoring 2 goals in the knockouts, with the latter being the bronze medal winning goal in the dying minutes of the match against Germany.

We wish to see more of him in the upcoming year 2018, and seriously hope that he has a major role in reviving the Indian hockey with a brilliant finish at the FIH Hockey World Cup 2018, to be held in Bhubaneswar.

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Edited by Harsh Manwani
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