This piece was published in Stick2hockey.com
It won’t be exactly out of place if one says that SV Sunil at times, leaves us frustrated given the talent and the kind of speed he possesses. But the 25-year-old Coorg lad seems to have turned over a new leaf - first excelling in the four Test series in Australia and later in the Champions Trophy in Bhubaneshwar.
Sunil was the cynosure of all eyes at Perth where he dished out a magnificent reverse shot match-winner, following a stupendous run in the second Test before scoring again in the third Test. At the Champions Trophy, he gave India the lead against Olympic silver medallist Netherlands, which panned out to be their first win over the Dutch in eighteen years.
The Indian striker shunned his ‘often seen loose play’ upfront and came up with a disciplined effort be it in scoring goals or setting it up for his team-mates. “I have been working on my game. My coaches have been telling me to control my speed as I tend to show promise in moving up but my lack of control ensures the ball goes out of play and the attacking move is wasted,” he puts forth his thoughts in an exclusive interview.
The demure Indian forward realizes the importance of making the most of his burst of speed. “Speed is my lethal weapon for my opponents and I want to use it judiciously and not overdo it so that my team reaps the benefits of it. I have learned to control my speed,” he observes.
Sunil, who recently moved to Bharat Petroleum, which also features team-mates Manpreet Singh and Birender Lakra, feels playing the full-strength top sides will put India in an advantageous position ahead of the 2016 Olympics. “Look, we have played these top sides and we now know their strengths and weaknesses. Our video analyst will help us in figuring how we can outmaneuver them in our upcoming tourneys, especially the 2016 Rio Olympics which is less than two years away.”
He has no doubts that India can really turn it on at the Rio Olympics if they maintain the consistency over the next seventeen months. “Consistency is the key and if the same bunch of players perform as we have been doing in recent times, there is no reason why we can’t win a medal in Rio,” he exudes confidence.
Dwelling on India’s superb Test series win over Australia, Sunil believes the team showed a lot of character after losing the opening Test. “Our coach was very angry when we lost the first Test 0-4, but the boys turned it around winning the next three Tests.”
He agrees frequent encounters with world champions Australia have inculcated plenty of self-belief in the side. “We have played Australia nine times this year and lost the first one 2-7 in New Delhi after taking a 2-0 in the first twenty-odd minutes. If you look closely, we have narrowed the gap and ended up winning three and losing six. Obviously playing top sides regularly helps and in this case regularly facing Australia worked in our favour,” he signs off.