Colts lived up to expectation in Azlan Shah: Harendra
New Delhi: Indian hockey team's go-young
policy paid off in the just-concluded Azlan Shah Cup and the
team would keep on trying new faces in the future tournaments
as well, national coach Harendra Singh said.
India retained the Azlan Shah title in Malaysia with a
relatively young side after four experienced campaigners --
Prabhjot Singh, Sandeep Singh, Deepak Thakur and Adrian
D'Souza -- were axed from the team following their dismal
showing in the World Cup.
Harendra lauded the selectors' decision to inject fresh
blood and said performance, not past glories, would be the
lone criterion for donning the national jersey.
"We went there (Azlan Shah Cup) to learn and play better
hockey. We went there to try some new players and we did
exactly that which is the most positive thing," Harendra told
PTI after returning from Ipoh, Malaysia.
"The selectors were right in inducting new players in the
Azlan Shah team because it was a big experience for them. We
will continue to try out new players in the upcoming
tournaments. It will help us in creating a broader pool of
players before the Commonwealth and Asian Games," said
Defending champions India shared the Azlan Shah Cup with
Korea after the summit clash was washed out due to heavy rain.
"For a player performance is the most important thing and
not past glory. Whoever performs will be selected for India. A
player cannot take his place for granted in the team,"
He said India's success in the Azlan Shah Cup, where it
beat top teams like world champions Australia, Pakistan and
Korea en route the title, speaks volume of the team's
improvement after their ordinary showing in the World Cup
earlier this year, where they finished eighth out of 12 teams.
"In Azlan Shah, we executed all our plans accurately on
the field. We were one step ahead of what we have done during
the World Cup. Slowly we are learning to play as per the
situation," Harendra said.
His views were shared by captain Rajpal Singh and forward
Tushar Khandekar, who said Azlan Shah was a confidence booster
not only for the youngsters but also for the entire squad.
"We improved on our game and worked on our mistakes which
we committed during the World Cup. The win is a great morale
booster for us, especially after the World Cup
disappointment," Rajpal said.
Khandekar said, "The new players played their part in the
tournament. They gained vital experience by playing against
big teams like Australia and Pakistan."
Khandekar, however, was a little disappointed to have
shared the trophy with Korea and said going by form, India
were the overwhelming favourites in the abandoned final.
"Obviously, we are a little disappointed to share the
trophy with Korea because we were pretty confident of beating
the Koreans in the final.”
"We were playing great hockey in the tournament and we
defeated Korea in the round robin stage," he said.