Sunday, July 7, 2013

Shivendra Singh's absence raises questions over India's selection policy

Shivendra Singh axed from Asia Cup probables list
If there was anything bright about India's shoddy performance in Round 3 of Hockey World League was the comeback story of Shivendra Singh. Shivendra after missing out full one year of international hockey due to poor form and injury marked his return in last month's Hockey World League. After being out of team for one year it was really great to see him back and hungry for goals. Along with Mandeep Singh and SV Sunil
he was the only player in the Indian team who meant real business and worked really hard during the game. And, now his absence from the
probables list for Asia Cup really questions the wisdom of national selectors and chief coach Micheal Nobbs.

Finishing sixth in the last month's Hockey World League, Indian team failed to secure World Cup qualification and now have only Asia Cup (or a backdoor entry) to qualify for the World Cup. The task for India has become harder as none of the Asian team has secured the World Cup berth through Hockey World League. So, with a huge task up at India's hand, not selecting India's most experienced striker is nothing short of a crime.

In the Round 3 of Hockey World League, Indian team played 6 matches and scored 16 goals. Out of 16 goals scored by the team, Shivendra Singh scored 2 and was responsible for creating at least two more goal chances for Mandeep Singh who scored 4 goals in the tournament

Looking at India's hockey attack over past one year only SV Sunil, Mandeep Singh and Nithin Thimmiah have justified their spot in the Indian team. All other players who have played in Indian attack have just made the numbers. Comparing that to Shivendra Singh who missed the whole one year of international hockey and Hockey India League has made a strong come back in the team. Add to that injuries to Gurvinder Singh Chandi and Danish Mujtaba has made Indian attacking options much limited. Not to add the loss of form to options like Yuvraj Walmiki really creates the problem for Indian team.

The current lot of shortlist players really tell about the grim situation of Indian strikers which was one of the strongest department. Among the 20 players shortlisted as forwards for the tournament only SV Sunil, Mandeep Singh, Chinglensana Singh, Nithin Thimmiah, Akashdeep Singh and SK Uthappa have experience of of playing with the senior team of India and performance of Chinglensana, Akashdeep and Uthappa have been below par. The current lot of young players are no way near the mark and they are surely going to disappoint in the Asia Cup.

With participants of World Series Hockey still out of favor, Shivendra Singh and Tushar Khandekar are the only option left with the Indian team management when it comes down to experience. The selectors should once again analyze the current situation of Indian team and look at the task ahead.

Hockey in India is currently in dire state after poor performances in the last twenty years. Another shock of not qualifying in the World Cup through Asia Cup (India are not the favorites) or surely hockey sticks will end up being a part of history museum in India.

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