Oct 1, 2015

Five Players Who Have A Point To Prove On New Zealand Tour

Mandeep hasn't scored for India since World Cup 2014

Indian hockey team led by Sardar Singh have reached New Zealand for a six match series in order to prepare for Hockey World League finals and Rio Olympics. Coach Roelant Oltmans has taken four penalty corner experts in the squad while Manpreet Singh and Dharamvir Singh make their comeback after injury. Among the 21 players selected for the tour, there are players who have a point or one to prove. Here is a list of five players who have a point to prove on New Zealand tour:

Manpreet Singh: Sardar Singh’s successor Manpreet Singh has had a poor 2015 as compared to his form in 2014. Along with poor form, Manpreet Singh was forced to miss the Europan tour due to shin injury. After his recovery, Manpreet Singh has been brought back in the side and lot is expected from him since his return. With his form eluding him, Manpreet is under pressure to perform and new coach Roelant Oltmans just like Paul Van Ass has no regards to big names when it comes to team selection. Oltmans believes that team selection for the Hockey World League and Olympics should only be based on player’s performance and not on the name at the back of the shirt. New Zealand tour offers Manpreet a great chance of re-discovering his form and cements his place in the squad as deputy of Sardar Singh. A good performance against world no 7 will give his confidence a huge boost. Manpreet Singh is a key player for Indian team and his loss of form is concern to Indian team management who want to take a strong side for upcoming FIH tournaments. A fit and confident Manpreet Singh will be a great addition to Indian team.

Dharamvir Singh: With Gurbaj Singh banned for nine months and Olympics participation a huge doubt, the responsibility role solely lays on the shoulder of Dharamvir Singh. Dharamvir Singh was part of great trio of Gurbaj- Dharamvir-SV Sunil and not with Gurbaj banned; Dharamvir alone will have to provide support to SV Sunil in the attack. Satbir Singh is another player who will be asked to play in place of Gurbaj Singh but it will be Dharamvir who be under pressure to perform. In the European tour, Roelant Oltmans tried Rupinder and Jasjit in Gurbaj Singh’s place but did not give desired results so it’s just Dharamvir who specialises in the role of right half for India. 

Nikkin Thimmaiah: Nikkin Thimmaiah has nothing short of a revelation for India. After the likes of Deepak Thakur, India have finally found a goal poacher who is not afraid to take on opposition defenders, but the only thing going against him is the amount of competition for his spot. Despite his good performances for Indian team, Nikkin found himself out of European tour due to availability of other experienced players. With this New Zealand tour, Nikkin has got a great opportunity to test his mettle against some of the best defenders in the world. Agreed, New Zealand is no Netherlands, Germany or Australia but they have given top teams of the world a serious headache when playing against them. If Nikkin is able to cause problems to New Zealand, he will surely seal spot for the Olympics.

Mandeep Singh: Another player who has been suffering from loss of form is striker Mandeep Singh who has not fared well for Indian in recent times due to poor form and injury related issues. Mandeep who was instrumental in helping Ranchi Rhinos in winning inaugural Hockey India League where he was also the top goal scorer in the tournament. In the recent European tour where India faced France and Spain, Mandeep did not score a single goal for India. His form has been so poor that he last scored for India on May 31 2014 in the Hockey World Cup opening match against Belgium despite selected numerous times to play for India. New Zealand tour provides Mandeep Singh another opportunity to get his goal scoring form back after string of poor performances for India. If he is unable to do well in the European team, he can surely kiss his Olympics dream good bye for now.

Jasjit Singh Kular: Arguably the best Indian player of recent Hockey World League, Jasjit Singh Kular faces a tough competition as both India’s favourable penalty corner experts Raghunath and Rupinder are back in the side after injury. Jasjit Singh scored two goals through penalty corners in the Hockey World League but it was his defensive prowess that caught the eye of fans and experts. Despite giving top notch performance in the Hockey World League, the chances of Jasjit getting selected in Hockey World League/Rio Olympics is less due to return of Rupinder Pal Singh and VR Raghunath. So, this New Zealand tour provides Jasjit Kular a chance to impress coach Roelant Oltmans and steal a place for India’s future tournaments.
Do you think there are any other players who have point to prove in the New Zealand tour? Let us know in the comments section below.

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