Ahead of a crucial match against a star-studded team, young players usually succumb to the pressure of playing top stars. In such a situation, a coach should divert their attention so as to relieve them of the pressure.
With his players thinking about big stars like former India captain Sandeep Singh and seasoned midfielder/defender Sardar Singh in the rival ranks, Maharashtra coach Mukul Pandey had to adopt similar tactics to put his boys at ease.
Ahead of the all-important Group F match against Haryana in the Hockey India Senior National Championship at the Aishbagh Stadium on Monday, Pandey organised a game of cricket on the football ground in the TT Nagar Stadium on Sunday morning.
"It was necessary to divert their attention from the match and thoughts about star players in the Haryana team," he said. "The cricket session came in handy and the boys enjoyed it a lot."
Both Maharashtra and Haryana easily won their opening league matches against minnows Goa and Meghalaya, respectively. The lone quarterfinal spot from the four-team pool will be decided in Monday's clash between the two. A victory will put the winner in the last-eight stage while a draw will bring goal difference in play.
Anticipating a stiff fight from Maharashtra, Haryana however had a strenuous workout in the morning.