The Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) finally released the official team list for the Doha Asian Games on Saturday. And, as expected, they managed to include a shocker by dropping midfielder Viren Rasquinha in favour of Gurbaj Singh.
After a short match between the players and a few fitness tests conducted late on Friday at Gurgaon, the selection committee decided to select Gurbaj. Coach Baskaran, when contacted, refused to give any reason for dropping Rasquinha.
"There is no reason, the trials were held yesterday and we decided on the team. It was a collective decision," he said. Interestingly, when the team arrived from Rourkela late on Thursday, the coach had insisted that there would be no 'selection trials,' only a last-minute confirmation of fitness. So much for consistency!
IHF secretary K Jothikumaran reiterated the 'collective decision' theory for dropping Rasquinha. "There is no injury," he admitted, but added: "It was a combination of factors, both form and fitness, that made us take this decision."
Nevertheless, one wonders how the 'form and fitness' issues suddenly cropped up at the 11th hour, since Rasquinha had been at the national camp in Rourkela for almost two months.
But then, that's how the IHF works.
Team: Adrian D' Souza, Bharat Chetri, Dilip Tirkey (captain), Harpal Singh, VR Raghunath, VS Vinaya, Arjun Halappa, Gurbaj Singh, Ignace Tirkey, Ajmer Singh, Rajpal Singh, Tushar Khandekar, Shivendra Singh, Tejbir Singh, Hari Prasad, Adam Sinclair
Chief coach: V. Baskaran; Coach: Harendra Singh; Physio: Ravi Kanakamedala; Manager: HS Dhillon.