Kargil war hero helping Indian hocky team ahead of Delhi CWG

New Delhi: Aiming to break its medal jinx in the upcoming Commonwealth Games, Indian men`s hockey team is undertaking special lecture sessions on psychology from Kargil war hero and Vir Chakra awardee Colonel Lalit Rai.

Colonel Rai is closely working with the national team players and giving them practical assignments on how to handle pressure situations in the training camp in Pune.

"The sessions with Colonel Rai are benefiting the team. He is working with the players at individual and team level. There are classes and practical assignment as well. The emphasis is on handling pressure and boosting their morale," National coach Harendra Singh said.

India has failed to fetch any medal in hockey since the game`s introduction in the Commonwealth Games in 1998.

But Harendra exuded confidence that this time around the team is better prepared for podium finish.

"I am confident that we are going to break the jinx this time. We have worked hard on the mistakes committed during the World Cup. A new strategy has been planned and players were made to realise that only results matter," he told an agency from Pune.

Hosts India had a disappointing outing in the World Cup earlier this year, where it finished a lowly eighth out of 12 teams at National Stadium here.

To add to its misery, India had got a tough group in the Delhi Games where it is clubbed alongside world champion Australia and arch-rival Pakistan in Pool A.

However, the national coach feels a tough first round outing is a blessing in disguise for the team.

"It will be easy for us to enter the semifinals if we clear the tougher hurdles in the preliminary round itself. This tournament is like a mini World Cup because all the leading team except three European giants (the Netherlands, Spain and Germany).”

"It is a golden opportunity for us to judge our abilities before the Asian Games. We will try to give our best shot, no matter who the opponent is," Harendra said.

With less than a month separating the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games, it becomes difficult for the players to peak twice in such short duration but Harendra said the team has back up plans for the November 12-26 Guangzhou event.

"We have chosen 22 players for this very reason. If somebody is injured or unfit we have back up player for that. The whole squad is fit and in form as of now," he said.

Harendra said the team wants to practice at the National Stadium, the main venue for hockey in the October 3-14 megaevent, from Saturday to derive the home advantage and as already submitted their request to the authorities concerned
in this regard.