Hockey India (HI) and the senior national squad are on confrontation course again. This time it's over the choice of captain for the World Cup, beginning in New Delhi on February 28.
The players, who struck work at the preparatory camp in Pune last month, want Prabhjot Singh as skipper. HI, on Saturday, accorded that honour to Rajpal Singh.
On Monday, the players, now training in New Delhi, met and decided to press for Prabhjot as captain. "All the team members and coaching staff met today and it was decided that Prabhjot is most suitable person to lead the team," said a senior team member.
Prabhjot, the team's most senior player, is also reportedly chief coach Jose Brasa's choice. Recently, Brasa had announced in front of the squad that there would be a change in captaincy and hinted that Prabhjot was the chosen one.
The selectors and HI overruled him as they didn't want to change captain frequently and cause a rift in the team.
Ironically, that's exactly what has happened with Rajpal being named skipper. Sources in the squad said the players were unhappy with Rajpal succumbing to pressure from HI and calling off the strike without consulting them.
Prabhjot, who held that players wouldn't practise until their demands were met, emerged leader of the strike. He was also appointed the players' spokesperson.
HI though is sticking to its stand. "I don't know what rumours are doing the rounds," said Narinder Batra, secretary-general of HI. "Rajpal has been made the captain on the recommendation of HI's selectors and government observers. Hockey India has no role to play in it. The selectors were of strict opinion that there should be no change in captaincy for such big tournaments. So they want to continue with Rajpal," he added.