Friday, December 5, 2014

Exclusive Interview: Will take one game at a time: Sardar Singh

This piece was published in Sportskeeda

The exit of head coach Terry Walsh ensured Indian hockey walked down the ‘controversy’ path. And the timing could not have been ‘worse’ given the fact that the premier Champions Trophy was just two weeks away. Given this scenario, the Indian team under the inspirational leadership of Sardar Singh will be looking to put all that ‘controversy’ behind them and continue their recent good run with a solid showing in the Champions Trophy.

The 28-year-old Indian skipper spoke to Sportskeeda in an exclusive interview.


Q First of all, how is the team is coping with the absence of chief coach Terry Walsh?

Well, Terry Walsh’s one-year contract has ended and now Roelant Oltmans has taken charge. I don’t think much will change as we have Oltmans and the same support staff for the Champions Trophy. We are focused on faring well in the Champions Trophy.

Q Terry Walsh had an outstanding one-year run as chief coach. How would you recall his coaching stint?

Look, the team have performed well in the last twelve months – we won the Asiad gold after eighteen years, bagged a silver in the Commonwealth Games and then beat world champions Australia in a four Test series in their own backyard. So obviously, the results have been highly encouraging and there is no doubt that he is a good coach. His one-year contract has ended and we now have to move on.

Q How would you rate India’s chances at the Champions Trophy given the form the team is in at the moment?

We are working hard and if the players execute their game plans strategized by our coaches we should do well. All teams are strong and cannot be taken lightly. We will take one game at a time and see how it goes.

Q You had a twist in your ankle during the four Test series in Australia. How is it holding up?

I twisted my ankle in Australia and have taken adequate rest, but in the practice game against Australia here I had some issues, but hopefully I will be fine for the tournament.

Q Talking of the four Test series in Australia, how do you asses India’s performance given the fact that we lost the first Test 0-4?

I thought the boys showed a lot character to rebound after losing the first Test. Our possession was solid and there was less mispasses, which helped our team to stay competitive against the world champions. Beating in Australia is never easy but the boys did really well to win the next three Tests and the series.

Q Penalty corner conversion has been a concern area for India over the years – do you think there is improvement this year?

I reckon our penalty corner conversion has improved from what it used to be earlier. The likes of Rupinder and Raghunath have plenty of experience behind them and then we have Gurjinder who has showed good form in the practice games in the lead-up to the Champions Trophy. PCs hold the key in crunch games and I hope our drag-flickers will not let us down.

Q The Champions Trophy is being held in Bhubaneshwar – a pocket where hockey is quite popular. How has been the atmosphere at the Kalinga Stadium in the run-up to the tournament?

The atmosphere has been great as hockey is very popular in Odisha. Even during practice sessions and practice games there has been a decent turnout. As for me, I have played only once at the Kalinga Stadium at the 2014 Hero Hockey India League and the turf looks good as well.

Q The first two editions of the Hero Hockey India League has been a big hit with the spectators. The 2015 edition will be expected to enhance the popularity of the league. Your thoughts.

The first two editions showed that a lot of new talents sprung up and I’m sure the 2015 edition will see more new talents come to the fore – guys who can a part of the junior and senior teams in future.

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