New Delhi: The selectors did the right thing
by infusing some young blood in the side for the Azlan Shah
hockey tournament as it will help in building the bench
strength for this year`s Commonwealth Games and Asiad, said
India`s senior-most player in the team Arjun Halappa.
Halappa expects the youngsters to grab the opportunity in
the seven-nation tournament, to be held in Ipoh, Malaysia from
May 6 to 16, with both hands.
"I think this is the best opportunity for youngsters to
prove their mettle ahead of the Commonwealth Games and Asia
Games. It is also good for Indian hockey as it will broaden
our pool of players before the two major events. I don`t see
any harm in resting some key players in tournaments like this
(Azlan Shah)," Halappa told reporters.
The Azlan Shah Cup, where they are defending champions,
is India`s first assignment after finishing eighth in the
World Cup earlier this year.
India have named a relatively younger side for the event
as they have dropped senior players Deepak Thakur, Prabhjot
Singh, Gurvinder Singh Chandi, ace drag-flicker Sandeep Singh
and goalkeeper Adrian D`souza from the Malaysia-bound squad
following their poor show in the World Cup.
With an eye on future, the selectors have included
untested Amit Prabhakar, Rupinder Pal Singh, Ravi Pal Singh
and Vikas Pillay in the team and Halappa said he is always
there to help the youngsters.
"I am always there to share my experiences. I have learnt
a lot from my seniors and now it is time for me to return it
back to the juniors," he said.
Asked whether Indian would feel the pinch being the
defending champions, Halappa said, "There is pressure in every
tournament but we don`t feel additional burden. This is
altogether a new tournament where almost every team is sending
young squads," said the veteran forward.
"We made many mistakes in the World Cup and we have
worked hard on these areas in the short camp. I hope we won`t
repeat those mistakes in this tournament.”
"The strength of this team is that there are no
superstars in it. All players are equal and raring to go," he