Harpal Singh Bedi
New Delhi: Drag flick specialist VR Raghunath is of the view that the current Indian hockey team’s defence line is very experienced and can withstand and challenge the World’s best squads.
“They are very experienced and the current set of defenders have about 50-80 caps together. They know each other very well and I don’t see them having any problems even when they are put in a tough match-situation against any top team in the world,” opined the former defender.
Further elaborating , Raghunath said that young drag flicker Harmanpreet has matured as a player and with good support from senior player Rupinder Pal , the team can produce lethal PC attack.
“Having two top drag flickers who can play full match is an advantage for the team . Both Harmanpreet and Rupinder are equally good and they have completely different execution and qualities. Having various options and combinations in drag flick is always good. Plus, the side has good options in Varun Kumar and Amit Rohidas who can be great support when one of the two top flickers are having a rough day,” Raghunath told Hockey India.
Talking about team’s preparations for the Tokyo Olympics ,Raghunath laid emphasis on importance of having the right mind set in their approach. “I think the team must take this period as a one year countdown, and forget everything that’s happened in the last 6-8 months. It is time to start afresh,”
He was of the view that the six-week break would have helped the players recharge. “The six-week break was ideal for the players to return to the National Camp feeling fresh. The team’s fitness is top class and they will continue to build on this plus point the next one year but having the right mindset in their approach and staying mentally positive will be very important,” said.
“How the players cope mentally in this new scenario, how they approach every day mentally and once they start training and playing matches, how they will cope with the pressure and the results will matter a lot. Usually in the lead up to the Olympics, the last 6-8 months pass by really fast and the team must be absolutely prepared physically and mentally.” said the defender who was part of team’s victories including the 2014 Asian Games Gold Medal and FIH Champions Trophy Silver Medal in 2016