Hockey

Australian Aggression Can Be Countered With Better Innovative Passing: Rupinder Pal Singh

India were blanked in the five-Test series in Perth some days ago, a disappointing outing for the team, which did reasonably well in the FIH Pro League before that and is expected to better or match its bronze from Tokyo Olympics at the Paris Games in July-August

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Important To Play Simple Hockey And Not Do Anything Too Dramatic: Rupinder Pal Singh Photo: File
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The recent 0-5 drubbing notwithstanding, former drag-flick specialist Rupinder Pal Singh feels the Olympic-bound Indian men's hockey team can counter Australia's aggressive style of play with better defensive coordination and some innovative passing. (More Hockey News)

India were blanked in the five-Test series in Perth some days ago, a disappointing outing for the team, which did reasonably well in the FIH Pro League before that and is expected to better or match its bronze from Tokyo Olympics at the Paris Games in July-August.

Singh, who was part of the 2014 Asian Games gold-winning side, is not too concerned by the final result as he felt the team kept improving with every game.

"We lost the first match 5-1, after that the team improved and the score-lines were close, we missed some chances, some work needs to be done prior to the Olympics. The series was a preparation for the Paris Olympics, as new variations and players were tried out," he said.

Asked how the team should counter Australia's attacking style of play, he said innovative passing could do the trick.

"Australia's hard press can be countered, a high level of coordination is required  for that, defender-to-defender ball transfer, quick passes from defenders to the mid-field, overhead passes would be useful in countering such a style of play," the 33-year-old suggested.

He sees no fault in India's reliance on penalty corners for scoring.

"All international teams, all are dependent on penalty corners -- the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Australia. Defences have become stronger, here PC  conversion is such an important tool that in every match about 1-2  goals have to be scored from them," he pointed out.

He described current India captain Harmanpreet Singh as one of the best drag-flickers in the world.

He was, however, concerned about the penalty corner conversion rate of the women's team, which is seeking to rebuild itself after its stunning failure to qualify for the Olympics.

"That's a worry (Penalty corner conversion), its penalty corner is an important tool in today's hockey we need to work on that," he said.

Singh was speaking on the sidelines of a three-day training program organised by Hockey India. It was also attended by former India goalkeeper Yogita Bali, along with India goalkeepers Adrian D'Souza, Bharat Chetri, Helen Mary, Dipika Murty, Akash Chikte, and PT Rao.

Apart from Singh, the other eminent former India drag-flickers who attended the training were Gurjinder Singh, VR Raghunath, and Jaspreet Kaur.

The former stars have drawn up a curriculum on the basics of drag-flicking and goalkeeping which would be implemented across all academies and centres in the country.

Future Bright For Women's Hockey

Despite the Olympic heartbreak, women's hockey will do well, according to bali, who picked Manipur's Bichu Devi Kharibam as the successor for long-serving goalkeeper Savita Punia.

"In Bengaluru, we trained with the top six goalkeepers of India, and I found Bichhu to be the best in India after Savita. She could be India's number one after Savita," Bali said.

Bali said Indian women's hockey has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years.

"Compared to when I started playing, there are a lot more facilities, now there are scientific advisors, nutrition experts to help the development of the players."

"Earlier Indian Railways was the prominent employment provider for hockey players, now several departments are offering jobs, so things are going well," she said.

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