India suffers injury setback ahead of HWL Final
Lalit Upadhyay's injury has seen youngster Mohd Amir Khan replace him.
New Delhi: Ahead of the Hockey World League (HWL) Finals in Raipur, India were dealt an injury setback in the form of striker Lalit Upadhayay, but chief coach Roelant Oltmans feels he has sufficient arsenal at his disposal to surprise world's top teams in the tournament.
Lalit, a promising centre who was initially named in the 18-member squad for the tournament, has been ruled out after suffering a hairline fracture during the final phase of India's preparatory camp in Bangalore.
Lalit has been replaced by young Mohd Amir Khan in the team.
"We had a good preparatory camp in Bangalore. Everything went off smoothly and fine. The only blemish was the injury to Lalit. He sustained a hairline fracture in the last week of our camp in Bangalore and is out of the tournament. Mohd Amir Khan will replace him in the squad," Oltmans, who is also the High Performance Director of India hockey, told PTI from Raipur.
Besides Lalit, another striker Nikkin Thimmaiah was also dropped from the squad because of a shoulder injury which he sustained during the last tour to New Zealand.
"We will also be missing Nikkin. He sustained a shoulder injury during the New Zealand tour and is likely to be operated soon. He will be out for at least six weeks.
"But we are making progress day by day and we have got a mix of young and experienced players in the side to take on top teams like Australia, Germany and The Netherlands," Oltmans said.
Oltmans, a master tactician and one of the renowned hockey coaches of the world, feels the preceding three-Test series against Australia, starting tomorrow in Raipur will provide him a perfect picture about his wards ahead of the high-profile tournament.
"Australia is the no. 1 team in the world. They are the fittest and the most attacking team in the world and to play three Tests against them will definitely test our preparation and give us an idea where we lack," the Dutchman said.
Taking about the upcoming HWL Finals in Raipur to be held from November 27 to December 6, the Indian coach said he understands the expectations of the countrymen but refused to set any goal for his team.
"I understand in India everyone believes in the final outcome but I believe in the process. The most important thing is if our process is right results will automatically come.
"So I have not set any goals like semifinals or finals. I will go match by match. Top eight teams of the world are competing in the tournament and every team will be hoping to upstage another," Oltmans said.
Oltmans feels that the recent tour to New Zealand has helped him to identify the grey areas which he needs to work upon ahead of the HWL Final.
"The New Zealand tour was of immense value to us. We were able to identify the new areas where we need to focus on besides our already existing weak links like the defence. We have worked a lot on our creative moves among others," he said.
Top eight teams of the world -- Australia, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, Great Britain, Argentina, India and Canada will be competing in the HWL Final.
India has been clubbed in a tough Pool B alongside Germany, The Netherlands and Argentina, while Pool A consists of Australia, Belgium, Great Britain and Canada.