They are no more the chokers of world hockey.
Showing unprecedented on-field bonding the Indian men's hockey team is changing for the better and the man behind this transformation is an army man -- Colonel Lalit Rai, the hero of the Kargil War.
The team, that finished ninth in the World Cup held here earlier this year, is now all geared-up to play its first ever Commonwealth Games final against Australia on Thursday.
The hosts cruised into the title clash defeating Pakistan (7-4) and England (5-4) in the last two matches.
Chief Coach Jose Brasa has said that this is the result of hard work of many people including Col Rai.
“A lot of people worked very hard to make it happen. The sessions with Col Rai were very important as far as the mental aspect is concerned. You can witness the changes in the team." he told PTI Bhasha today.
Avid fan of Indian hockey, Col Rai had voluntarily rendered his services to the national team prior to Azlan Shah cup in April this year. The became joint winner there and after that performance the team management had requested him to give some more sessions to the players.
"I was sure that this team will win a medal in CWG. This is a changed team . Every player now understands his role in the team and respects others' importance as well. The bonding among the players is unprecedented and it is reflecting in their performance." Col Rai said.
“Our sessions were specific on team bonding, psychological strengthening, killer instinct and perseverance. That included classroom lectures as well as practical assignments." he said.
“After the initial analysis we thought that the first and foremost thing was to create a bonding in the team. After that we had session on psychological strength in which we thought them how to be a conqueror. Next was to instill killer instinct in them and the last was perseverance." said Rai
He said that the change is for everyone to see and feel. The team is not conceding goals in dying moments and, on the contrary, India are getting goals in those final minutes.
Col Rai's company Emcure Pharma has rendered its services free of cost at Balewadi in Pune and at the company's office.
Drag flicker Sandeep Singh acknowledged the importance of those sessions and hoped to win a much-awaited gold tomorrow.
"The team has got a new-found fighting spirit now. Everyone has gelled very well with the other members which is a good sign. The team is playing better as a unit. Col Rai has taught us like an army man and we enjoyed it thoroughly." he said.