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Will Hockey India League mark Sandeep Singh’s return to the top?

Tarish Bhatt
2.24K   //    28 Jan 2015, 14:43 IST
Sandeep Singh celebrates after scoring in the Hockey India League’s third edition

Sandeep’s journey

Sandeep Singh, one of the most decorated Indian hockey players in the modern times, needs no introduction. His threatening dragflicks are feared across the world and he has been instrumental in India’s historic wins lately.

Since making his debut in 2004, Sandeep has seen quite a few ups and downs in his career. Days before leaving for the World Cup in 2006, he was accidently shot at the back owing to which he had to spend two years on the wheelchair. The star dragflicker didn’t lose hope and made a stunning comeback to the Indian team and also established himself as one of the best players in the world. He was India’s top-scorer in London Olympics qualifiers, with a whooping tally of 16 goals.

Sandeep, after the London Olympics, was sidelined and since then has spent most of the time away from the national team. For a former skipper, it isn’t easy to remain out of the team, despite being just 28-years old. But, the kind of fighter Sandeep is, he hasn’t lost hope of a national comeback and the ongoing edition of the Hockey India League is his best bid. Sandeep has already scored four goals in the tournament and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he again finishes as a top-scorer.

Leading scorer in previous editions

The Shahabad-born lad has topped the tables in both previous editions of the HIL with a tally of 11 goals in each season. In 2013, he did it for Mumbai Magicians, while in 2013 he led from the front for the Jaypee Punjab Warriors, also his current outfit.

Despite having such high credentials, Sandeep is constantly ignored from the national team and the selectors have gone for VR Raghunath and Rupinder Pal Singh as their preferred flickers. It is no hidden secret that Sandeep is miles ahead of both Raghunath and Rupinder Pal that is why he is one of the highest paid players in the HIL.

The biggest reason for his absence from the national team could be his confidence level, which was exposed in the last few HIL games. Sandeep’s flicks were missing the bite, making it easier for the opposition to stop them.

Return to the national team

Sandeep was once said to have the best dragflick speed in the world, but right now he is no way near to the high standards he has set for himself. His average speed is around 120 kmph, quite less than 145 kmph, which he used to have. This could be the reason Punjab Warriors were reluctant in allowing Sandeep to take the flicks in the opening encounter and relied on variations. But, when you have someone like Sandeep in the team, you just cannot let him stand and try other things.

Sandeep is now looking more confident, which is good news for both Punjab Warriors and India. The third edition of the Hockey India League could be a breakthrough period for the star flicker and he would want to return in India’s scheme of things.

Modern hockey is all about dragflicks and with some big tournaments fast approaching and the Olympics just a year away, India need Sandeep desperately. Raghunath and Rupinder Pal miss the consistency and someone like Sandeep will help them as well as the team.

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Tarish Bhatt
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