May 3, 2015

Five Things We Learnt From India-Japan First Test Match

India-Japan played a 1-1 draw
After less than impressive performance in Sultan Azlan Shah, Indian team took on world no 16 Japan in the first of four test match series. Once again, Indian team disappointed and ended the game at 1-1 thanks to equalizer by penalty corner expert VR Raghunath. After a disappointing draw, here are the five things we learnt from today’s day.

1.       Sardar Singh needs support and urgently

It is of no doubt that Sardar Singh is India’s best player and has been the best player for most part
of the last decade. Team has needed him at every position during those 10 years be it attack, midfield or defence. At the age of 28, he is not getting any younger and the wear and tear of last 10 years of being depended upon is finally taking a toll on his body.  Coach Paul van Ass must address the issue at hand find a suitable support for Sardar Singh or decrease his responsibility on the field. Sardar Singh has some support on the field in form of Gurbaj Singh but it is just not enough. Today against Japan, Sardar Singh once again played as a lone warrior in the team without any support. All the players expected him to play their and come and support the team. With him being tired and rested, India missed his expertise on the field and India once again was lacking creativity, but when he was on the field, he was busy doing other player’s work.

New coach Paul Van Ass has to make sure that the team management finds a player which will support Sardar Singh especially for defensive duties so that Sardar Singh can go forward and help the team in creating some much needed goals for the Indian team.

2.       Rupinder Pal Singh needs to address his penalty corner issues

In the year 2014, Rupinder Pal Singh was India’s main threat through penalty corners with VR Raghunath second choice during penalty corners, but in the year 2015, tides have turned and Rupinder Pal Singh’s penalty corners has lost the zing. He had a poor Hockey India League where he was unable to make any impact through penalty corner and his poor run continued from Sultan Azlan Shah Cup to India-Japan series where he missed two penalty corners in the match. His penalty corner conversion needs a lot of work.

During the tenure of Jose Brasa, hockey India brought Jugraj Singh as penalty corner coach to help Indian penalty corner experts. Once again the time has come for Hockey India to bring a coach once again who will help Indian penalty corner experts, especially Rupinder Pal Singh. Jugraj Singh was one who shaped Rupinder Pal Singh’s early career and once again Rupinder Pal needs his mentor more than before. Hope Hockey India understands the issue and gets some help for young Rupinder Pal Singh.

3.       Lakra and Raghunath instil some hope among the fans

One of India’s major concerns in last two decades has been absence of proper defensive pair. Last proper defensive pair that India had was Dilip Tirkey and Kanwalpreet Singh but Kanwalpreet’s erratic behaviour and discipline issues made Tirkey stand alone and defend India’s goal. Now, once again we have a pair on which the team could rely on and this time it is VR Raghunath and Birendra Lakra who are forming the new defensive pair. After receiving flak for most of the early part of his career, Raghunath has won many fans due to his defensive abilities; Raghunath has come out to prove himself as a capable defender.

Along with Raghunath, Birendra Lakra has also shown incredible capabilities as a defender and has cemented his place in the Indian team. Lakra’s strong performance was evident against Japan as well as he covered his flank very well and made sure that Japan did not create any chances from left flank of the field. With Raghunath and Lakra have given some hope to Indian fans that they are a decent defending pair.

4.       India needs new (or old) forward line

Indian hockey was always known for its electrifying forward line right from the start to the early parts of 2000s, but off late, Indian forward line has become a cause for concern for Indian team and this match was not different with Indian hockey team missing the zing of the old days where the Dhanraj Pillay and Gagan Ajit Singh along with Prabhjot Singh and Deepak Thakur used to terrorize the opposition with their creativity and fiery play. Today Indian forward line was once again missing the zing and the players acted more like robots just doing the basics. Result- Indian forward line failed to create any chances in the match and was outplayed by Japanese defence.

Indian team management will have to find a solution to this problem and if possible bring some old guys like Shivendra Singh and Tushar Khandekar to create some insecurity among the current lot. Only player who deserves his place in Indian forward line is SV Sunil. His fiery runs have caused trouble among the opposition. Indian forward line needs a breath of fresh air so it is time for Hockey India to dump the current lot and get a new forward line before the Olympics.

5.       Coach Van Ass unable to get his message past the players

Paul Van Ass has a great resume of coaching international teams and most of the current lot of players have worked under multiple coaches but this time though, Coach Van Ass is unable to get his message or say style of play pass Indian players. Indian team haven’t digested the strategies and tactics put forward by new coach Paul Van Ass and have started all the tournaments played under him very slow. In the recently concluded Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, Indian team played without any aim or purpose and it was very late in tournament that India managed to play according to the plan.

Since that day, it was expected that Indian team would get its act together and come out strongly in the next tournament, but once again the team was in shambles. During quarter breaks, Van Ass did discuss his plans and strategies but it did not work and team could only manage a draw. 

Coach Paul needs to make sure that players buy his strategy and implement the same ASAP. India is not going to play many tournaments this year and will not have enough time to test the theories. It is high time that Paul Van Ass makes sure that his strategy is downloaded in the players and put to use in the game

No comments:

Post a Comment