Fit-again Yuvraj to play tomorrow`s 3rd hockey Test against SA

New Delhi: Promising striker Yuvraj Walmiki is all set to return to India`s playing eleven in the third hockey Test against South Africa here tomorrow after remaining in the sidelines for nearly one-and-a-half month due to a hip injury.

Yuvraj, considered as the new rising star of Indian hockey, picked up the injury last month during the first of India`s preparatory camp for the Olympic qualifiers in Bangalore.

But after four weeks of rehabilitation, the Mumbai lad now can`t wait to get back to playing ways and is confident of his performance in tomorrow`s game.

"I am eagerly looking forward to tomorrow`s match. I haven`t played hockey for the last 45 days, which is very frustrating. So, I am just eager to play tomorrow," Yuvraj told reporters on the eve of the match.

"The physio (Srikant Iyengar) and medical staff did a helped me a lot during my rehabilitation period.”

"It`s now a week that I have started practising and (exercise physiologist) David John also said that I can play tomorrow," said the striker, who shot into limelight in his debut tournament when he converted a penalty against Pakistan in the finals of the Asian Champions Trophy in China, which India won.

Asked whether he was nervous of aggravating his just-recovered hip, Yuvraj said, "I am not at all nervous, I am just confident. I hope to come up with a good performance tomorrow."

India`s chief coach Michael Nobbs too hinted at Yuvraj`s comeback and said he will again field a new look playing XI tomorrow to test his combinations ahead of the Olympic qualifiers to be held here from February 18-26.

"It`s (changes) going to happen tomorrow as well. As I said earlier, I am going to give opporunities to everyone to show their talent in the first three games against a quality side like South Africa," Nobbs said.

"In the final two games we will play such combinations which we are looking to field in the qualifiers," he added.

He said even though India ended on the winning side in the first two Tests, the home team has a lot of work to do ahead of the qualifiers.

"In the first game the defence was ok, but in the second game not just the defence we made mistakes in every department. But I was expecting this."

Asked whether he will have the final say in the selection of the team for the Olympic qualifiers, Nobbs said, "The selection will based on a host of criteria.”

"We will analyse players’ performances, medical reports, fitness reports. Then I will make my assessment and the selectors will make theirs. Everyone`s opinion is important because we want to field the best 18 players in the qualifiers."

He also said that just like the first two Tests, he will continue to rotate the captaincy among senior players in the remaining two games of the series.

India lead the five-match series 2-0 after defeating South Africa 4-0 and 2-1 in the first two matches.


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