Indian hockey team under pressure after Sandeep's injury

India hockey team forwards Gagan Ajit Singh, Rajpal Singh and Tushar Khandekar will be under pressure at the Hockey World Cup.

updated: February 25, 2007 11:36 IST
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Mumbai/New Delhi:

With Sandeep Singh out of reckoning after being accidentally shot on board a train, team forwards Gagan Ajit Singh, Rajpal Singh and Tushar Khandekar will be under pressure at the Hockey World Cup. Of the 16 teams at the last World Cup in Kuala Lumpur, India had finished a dismal 10. This time round Sandeep Singh was their big hope given his impressive goal-scoring record. The team-members though are confident that they can still manage a podium finish despite this mishap. The Indian hockey squad getting themselves measured for their official world cup formal wear, at a clothing store in the capital on Tuesday. Conspicuous by his absence though was young Sandeep Singh, who had fitted in as the penalty corner expert in the side. "Sandeep will be missed. We've trained together for 45 days, so it's obviously unfortunate when he was doing so well and gelling with the team. He's a very funny guy keeps cracking jokes and having fun, so yes that'll be sad as well to have him out," said Ravi Kanakamedala, Physio, Indian Men's Hockey Team. Injury to hurt team Sandeep Singh's injury comes at a time when things were just beginning to look up for India. But the team may well be able to eke out that extra bit of motivation again, like they did after Jugraj Singh got injured before the Asia cup. Sandeep in fact is as crucial to the team's chances at next month's world cup in Germany as Jugraj was before the Asia Cup three years ago. His recent penalty corner conversion rate of almost 67 per cent makes him one of the best in the business. And although most goals in modern hockey come through short corners, coach V Baskaran's policy of attacking hockey has led to more field goals. "The team should now work extra hard for Sandeep, who's not going to be there with them for a while. They should represent the country aiming to win laurels for India and indeed for Sandeep," said Dhanraj Pillay, Former Indian Hockey Captain. "Yes, we will obviously miss him, but that's not an excuse. We've trained hard and will still look to do well. Obviously his loss as our main penalty corner taker is a big one, but we're confident," said Arjun Halappa, Member, Indian Hockey Team. It's a loss that's hard to fill since his international debut at the 2004 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, the Punjab youngster has scored around 30 goals in 72 matches for India. And while playing in the world cup is out of the question, he might still have a slim chance of playing in the Asian Games in December.