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India relax, practice before their opener

india Updated: Feb 28, 2010 01:07 IST
Saurabh Duggal
Saurabh Duggal
Hindustan Times
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On the eve of their opening match of the Hero Honda FIH World Cup against Pakistan, the Indian team had a relaxed training session under floodlights at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium here on Saturday.

They fine-tuned some penalty corner drills in two groups, Sandeep Singh, the main flicker, along with Diwakar Ram in one of the groups. Dhananjay Mahadik practiced indirect variation for the penalty corners with the other, thus making sure that they completed the drills the way they planned.

The attackers and defenders were divided into groups of four each, working on their skills, taking turns to attack or defend against the opposing group. The nearly two-hour session was conducted under media glare as around 30-40 media persons were present in the stands. This was the first practice of the team that was open to the media as earlier the scribes were not allowed to enter the National Stadium.

“We just took it easy today as tomorrow is a crucial match. We are all confident of doing well in the match against Pakistan,” said Sandeep Singh, who incidentally has postponed his birthday celebrations by a day, till after the opening day's play. He said the team was not under any extra pressure because of the clash with Pakistan.

Asked about their day before the high-pressure clash, the players said they relaxed and did not think much about it. They also switched off their phones in order to avoid calls from quote-hungry scribes and other people, which would add to the pressure. “There is already some tension, which you feel before every important match, wherever you play, why add more to it,” said a player.

The players also didn't discuss it much. They did some gym work in the morning, had lunch at the usual time and relaxed before coming to the stadium for the evening session under floodlights.