New faces in Azlan Shah squad a welcome step: Halappa | delhi | Hindustan Times
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New faces in Azlan Shah squad a welcome step: Halappa

delhi Updated: Apr 29, 2010 15:52 IST

The selectors did the right thing by infusing some young blood in the side for the Azlan Shah hockey tournament, as it will help in building the bench strength for this year's Commonwealth Games and Asiad, said India's senior-most player in the team Arjun Halappa.

Halappa expects the youngsters to grab the opportunity in the seven-nation tournament, to be held in Ipoh, Malaysia from May 6 to 16, with both hands.

"I think this is the best opportunity for youngsters to prove their mettle ahead of the Commonwealth Games and Asia Games. It is also good for Indian hockey, as it will broaden our pool of players before the two major events. I don't see any harm in resting some key players in tournaments like this (Azlan Shah)," Halappa told PTI.

The Azlan Shah Cup, where they are defending champions, is India's first assignment after finishing eighth in the World Cup earlier this year.

India have named a relatively younger side for the event as they have dropped senior players Deepak Thakur, Prabhjot Singh, Gurvinder Singh Chandi, ace drag-flicker Sandeep Singh and goalkeeper Adrian D'souza from the Malaysia-bound squad following their poor show in the World Cup.

With an eye on future, the selectors have included untested Amit Prabhakar, Rupinder Pal Singh, Ravi Pal Singh and Vikas Pillay in the team and Halappa said he is always there to help the youngsters.

"I am always there to share my experiences. I have learnt a lot from my seniors and now it is time for me to return it back to the juniors," he said.

Asked whether Indian would feel the pinch being the defending champions, Halappa said, "There is pressure in every tournament but we don't feel additional burden. This is altogether a new tournament where almost every team is sending young squads," said the veteran forward.

"We made many mistakes in the World Cup and we have worked hard on these areas in the short camp. I hope we won't repeat those mistakes in this tournament.

"The strength of this team is that there are no superstars in it. All players are equal and raring to go," he added.