A settled defensive line up has been a big advantage for the Indian team in its resurgence in world hockey, feels seasoned full back V Raghunath.
"The defence has played together for quite some time -- one and a half to two years -- and the understanding among myself, Rupinder, Kothajit, Gurbaj and Birender Lakra has improved a lot which is very important. Our combination has come out very well," said Raghunath here today.
"We understand each other's plus and minus points very well. You need time to do it. We try to cover up for each other which is more important as it's a team game. If we don't concede goals, we can win maximum number of matches, that's the idea," the 26-year-old drag-flick expert explained.
Raghunath played for his employers Indian Oil in the ongoing All India Bombay Gold Cup tournament here barely four hours after landing in Mumbai from Australia via Delhi after taking part in the four-Test series Down Under. India had registered a historic 3-1 series victory over Australia.
Raghunath reminded coach Terry Walsh's words that the series win in Australia was only a small step in India's preparation for the Rio Olympic Games in 2016 for which the team qualified by winning the coveted gold medal in the Incheon Asian Games last month.
"We have a target of playing against strong teams like Australia, Germany, Holland. India really needs to play these teams to find out the level of improvement over the past one year. This is the first step in the build-up to Rio Olympics, our coach (Terry Walsh) has said," Raghunath said.
The Karnataka-born player said all the players put their best foot forward in the series Down Under. "Everyone's personal best has given the best result in Australia. Forwards came up with very good goals and defence conceded only one goal in the last three games after the loss (0-4) in the first. The defence has worked out very well," said Raghunath.
"After a long time we won a Test series in Australia. The team was very good. We also went all out as we wanted to check where we stand in international hockey. The boys have proved we have capability, fitness, skill level and strength to come to the top at the international level."