A bright new dawn for Indian hockey

Updated: 19 June 2014 13:32 IST

India's bronze-medal winning effort at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament in Malaysia made even the most hard-nosed cynics sit up and take notice.

A bright new dawn for Indian hockey
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Mumbai,Delhi:

India's bronze-medal winning effort at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament in Malaysia made even the most hard-nosed cynics sit up and take notice.

The superb performance came after some sweeping changes to the team - some forced and some not quite.

But much-needed they were, as the selectors, who complained about the lack of bench-strength a few months back, suddenly find themselves confronted with a problem of plenty.

Youngsters impress

Sardara Singh's goal against South Korea won India the bronze. The performance far exceeded the expectations of not just the fans, but also the IHF chief himself.

In fact, they managed this feat despite having a new captain and coach as well as six rookies in their ranks.

The decision to rely on fresh talent after disastrous campaigns in the World Cup and the Asian Games paid rich dividends.

"Fresh legs, coaching and playing as a unit are responsible. For that kind of full-press strategy that we're playing now, we need young and energetic people who can run. And they have fitted in well into the scheme of things. Combining well with the likes of Prabhjot etc," said M M Somayya, Techinical Director, Indian Hockey Team.

India's goals

The most noticeable part of India's game was their reliance on quick short passes, rather than speculative and ineffective long-balls.

The performance of the forward line was especially noteworthy, with Roshan Minz and Bharat Chikkara marking themselves out as stars of the future.

Coach Joaquim Carvalho's attack-minded tactics combined with the fearlessness and exuberance of youth meant the campaign was not only a successful, but also an enjoyable one.

"The best thing that has happened with Joaquim in charge is that the boys are playing without any pressure. In our time we used to play as though the weight of the world was on our shoulders. Now they're playing freely," said Viren Rasquinha, Former Indian Hockey Captain.

However, certain chinks still remain to be worked on, especially the midfield and the finishing by the forwards.

India have a busy schedule ahead, with the Champions Challenge and the Olympic Qualifiers to look forward to, and not much scope for slipping up.

And that applies not just to the team at large, but also the seniors who didn't play the Azlan Shah Cup, and can now no longer take their place in the side for granted.

Topics : Hockey
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