Why have the Indian women's hockey team ignored Jaspreet Kaur despite drag-flick problems?
The Indian senior women’s hockey team have raised the expectations ahead of their quarterfinal clash against Olympic champions Netherlands with their valiant performance against world number two Australia losing 2-4. But, one thing that glaringly strikes out is the absence of a potent drag-flicker and the obvious question that demands an answer is why Jaspreet Kaur not picked in the side for the Hockey World League (HWL) semi-finals.
The 19-year-old talented drag-flicker, who battled with a serious knee injury for over a year before making a comeback for the six Test series against Malaysia last June, has been an integral part of the national side, consistently scoring goals. We can’t be sure what India’s head coach Mathias Ahrens thinks, but it is clear that the head coach and the selectors have missed a trick in not selecting a drag-flicker for the HWL.
Jaspreet was India’s top goal-scorer at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games scoring six goals and again emerged as the top goal-scorer with four goals including a crucial strike in the 2-1 win over Japan in the bronze medal play-off tie. The lanky girl from Shahbad netted six goals to be the second top goal scorer behind Vandana Kataria’s 11-goal haul in the HWL round 2 event in New Delhi last March.
I am fully fit: Jaspreet Kaur
Watching the likes of Paumen Maartje (Netherlands), Jodie Kenny (Australia), Anna Flanagan (Australia) and Anita Punt (New Zealand) makes us wonder why India did not select a drag-flick specialist in the squad. At least, performance-wise, someone like Jaspreet deserves a place in the side unless she is carrying an injury. Ask the player in question and you get more perplexed by her absence.
“I’m fully fit and not carrying any injury. I’m training with the junior women’s team that will play in a Four Nations Tourney in Netherlands,” Jaspreet revealed.
The fullback joined the Railways recently and was part of the preparatory camp for the HWL semi-finals.
“My joining date with Railways was on June 1 and I had to take leave from the camp for a few hours on two or three occasions as I had to undergo medical and other joining formalities, but other than that I have taken part in all training sessions,” she said.
Jaspreet, however, is bullish about making a comeback to the senior team.
“I’m working hard all the time and if there are any shortfalls in my game I don’t know. I have age on my side and I’m really positive about my senior team comeback and also delighted to see the team perform superbly against Australia. At the moment, I’m focusing on the preparations for the Dutch tour with the junior team,” she signed off.
It is a mystery why India did not select Jaspreet Kaur, who is fully fit and scoring goals for fun. Jaspreet’s innocence is all too evident, but one may question whether her ‘taking leave’ during the national camp to complete the new job formalities was treated as ‘indiscipline’ by the people who matter.