Indian team works on improving skills

The Indian hockey team is looking forward to performing well in the World Cup in Kuala Lumpur.

updated: February 25, 2007 09:27 IST
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Last year was a bumper one for Indian hockey and the team is certainly looking forward to keeping it that way as they prepare for the World Cup. NDTV met up with their coach Cedric D'Souza and the team in Chennai. Penalty corner conversion has always been a weak point in Indian hockey, something that is being specifically worked in the pre-World Cup camp in Chennai. Experts point out that in the last six matches, India scored just about 11 goals, indicating a clear shift towards defensive hockey. While the Indian coach refutes this conclusion, he is focussing on certain skills like ball possession. "It's a question of not converting the chances we've created. If we do that the sky is the limit. In today's hockey, the field has been elongated with the new off side rule. Everyone has to be an attacker and a defender," explained D'Souza. There was a time when Maharashtra used to contribute most of the players to the Indian cricket team. Now it seems to be Punjab's turn to dominate Indian hockey! In the present squad of 26 probables, 12 players are from Punjab, seven forwards, two full backs, two half backs and one goalkeeper. "I think it's because more people are playing hockey in Punjab than in the rest of the country, said Sukhbir Gill, a player. Gaganjit Singh, another player in the team, "We have good fitness, team spirit and keep improving on penalty corner conversion. The last World Cup that India won was way back in 1975 in Kuala Lumpur and interestingly, there were as many as 10 players from Punjab in that victorious squad of sixteen. With a determined team, 2002 will hopefully witness a replay of that golden year.