Feb 21, 2012

Defence Wins The Game

As Son Tzu has rightly said "Invincibility lies in the defense; the possibility of victory in the attack.", all over defence is said to be the best attack sometimes rather than vice versa because in reality a game is half won if a goal isn't conceded at all.
That is why we bring to you the defending line-up of our present Indian Hockey Team.

Sandeep Singh

Caps : 151.
          Sandeep Singh comes from the Shahabad town in Haryana and was born to Gurcharan Singh and Daljit Kaur. 
            His international debut was in Jan 2004 in Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, Kuala Lumpur after a stupendous performane in the 2004 Junior World Cup in Karachi, Pakistan., which India won for the first time. He bagged the spot of the top-scorer in this tournament. Sandeep took over as the captain of the Indian hockey team in January 2009. Sandeep is a well known drag-flicker. At a time he was said to have the best speed in the world in Drag flick (a speed hovering around 145km/h). Under his captaincy, the Indian team managed to clinch the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup 2009 after defeating Malaysia in the finals at Ipoh. India won the title after a long wait of 13 years. Sandeep was also the top goal scorer of the tournament. A rare feat for a defender.
            Although the going wasn't always so smooth. He entered the Indian team as full-back but was tried on several occasions at right half and forward line. In 2006, Sandeep was hit by a bullet while he was traveling in Shatabdi Express to join the team for World Cup (I still wonder what the constable was thinking when he entered a train with a loaded rifle). Most of the experts wrote off his hockey career after this incident but perhaps hockey was his life and he never wanted to let go of it. After intense treatment  Sandeep emerged from the hospital with a hockey stick in his hand.
            His relationship with the then coach Joquim Carvalho then turmoiled in 2007 after India did not qualify for the 2008 Olympics. Sandeep Singh returned to national side under coach AK Bansal in the 2008 Azlan Shah Cup where India reached the finals after a 12 year gap and won the Silver with sandeep scoring 9 goals in this process.           
In view of above he has been appointed as DSP by the Haryana State Govt.
            Inspite of all the above achievments Hockey India finds it "difficult to trust" Sandeep Singh which led to his suspension recently
Last International appearance :  India - South Africa test series ; Selected for Olympic qualifiers

V. Raghunath

Caps : 93.
Returning to the national side after almost a gap of two years in 2011, Raghunath has termed his absence as a " Huge learning curve" as he returned with an asset of being a "Drag-Flicker".
He has faced more bad days than most. One's full of anxiety only to see that his chances of return were crafted in the form of a National Championship in Bhopal, where he emerged the highest goal-scorer for Karnataka and he soon found himself in the squad for the Asian Champions Challenge in September. There has been no looking back since and Raghunath, now 6-7 kgs lighter, forms the key trio of drag-flickers in the side along with friend Sandeep Singh and Rupinder Pal Singh.
His brief stint in the German league also helped him and he picked some handy drag-flicking tips from Christopher Zeller.
Raghunath's first game with the national side was the Sub-Junior Asia Cup, Dhaka, which India won. He made his senior international debut against Pakistan in 2005.
He played most of senior the tournaments in 2007 and 2008 along with the senior's world cup (2006) as a defender substituting Sandeep Singh who was injured accidently and who also is a good friend now, as he told deccan herald in following words
“We have a lot of fun together and keep pulling each others' leg. Even among the three drag-flickers(Ragunath, sandeep and rupinderpal singh), we have a good rapport. Sandeep in fact is a friend and we know each other from our junior days. This understanding also helps us during matches. This combination of flickers can take the team a long way.”
Last International appearance :  India - South Africa test series ; Selected for Olympic qualifiers

Rupinder Pal Singh

Caps : 35.
Born and brought up in Faridkot, Punjab, hockey was a family affair for this lad just like most others in his town. He is a cousin of Gagan Ajit Singh. Rupinder took to hockey at the age of  11 being inspired by the likes of Gaganajit Singh, Sandeep Singh and Jugraj Singh.
At 6'4'', Rupinder easily stands out with his beanpole physique, but he acknowledges that it is his skills that have to catch the attention of the team management.
The youngster made his international debut at the senior level incidentally at the Azlan Shah Cup, though he was left warming the benches most of the time.The decision to field a young side for the 2011 edition of Azlan Shah Cup opened up the window of opportunity for the lanky customer and he grabbed it by both hands. The European tour same year came as a good experience though he could find a place only in the standby list in the Commonwealth Games and Asiad games in 2010.
Rupinder was among the four players selected out of the National Juniors team by Jugraj Singh in event of forming a penalty corner expert group and went on to be a promising drag-flicker. "I did not achieve this overnight. My drag flick coach Jugraj has worked hard for that. I owe my success to him," says Rupinder when asked about his recent success by TOI.

Apart from these regulars we have promising talent with Manjeet Kullu , Amit prabhakar and others.
Also Sardara Singh(Sardar Singh) sometimes falling back from his Center Midfield position is an indespensable asset.
Although we have been focussing on the current players and are going to write about the greats and x-players later, there is one name which can never be done with when we talk about indian hockey's defence and  that is
With 400+ caps , he is India's most capped player having providing his services for india for almost 15 years and being looked upto by all upcoming defenders.
Dilip Tirkey was born to Vincent Tirkey, an Oraon Adivasi and former Oriya hockey player and Regina Tirkey on 25 November 1977.
Dilip Tirkey joined Indian National Hockey Team in 1995 and the same year he played his first international Hockey match against England. With hard work and talent, Dilip Tirkey became the captain of National Hockey Team and the team played under his captain-ship for almost 10 years. He has represented India in three Olympic Games and he is the first Oriya to achieve this success.

He has been conferred upon the following awards :
  • 1996 'Ekalavya Puraskar'
  • 1998 'ONGC-Hockey Year Book Award'.
  • 2002 'Arjuna Award'.
  • and in 2004, Dilip Tirkey was honoured with prestigious 'Padma Shri' award. His list of feats and honours can go on and on. 
Take a look at Dilip Tirkey (Wikipedia)

These were the true heroes of Indian team. Next time we bring to you the strong side of the team, the midfield.

  • Wikipedia.
  • Times of India.


  1. how to get tickets for hokey tournament going on in Delhi ???