Gurbaj Singh all set to rock for Ranchi Rays in upcoming Hockey India League | other sports | Hindustan Times
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Gurbaj Singh all set to rock for Ranchi Rays in upcoming Hockey India League

The upcoming season of the Hockey India League will be a big chance for the 28-year old Gurbaj Singh to make it back to the Indian national hockey team.

other sports Updated: Jan 19, 2017 23:18 IST
The upcoming season of the Hockey India League will be a big chance for the 28-year old  Gurbaj Singh to make it back to the Indian national hockey team.
The upcoming season of the Hockey India League will be a big chance for the 28-year old Gurbaj Singh to make it back to the Indian national hockey team.(Getty Images)

Gurbaj Singh has mastered the art of comeback. For the 28-year-old out-of-favour midfielder, the upcoming season of the Hockey India League is another such attempt to make it back to the national team.

“Many players have made it to the India camp based on their performances in the HIL. I also feel the urge to prove myself in this league. That is what is in my hand. Everything else is not, and I am trying to focus on just what I can do,” Gurbaj told HT after a training session with his franchise Ranchi Rays here on Thursday.

His career has been one strange curve – in fact, more a seesaw than a curve. He has gone from being critical to the team’s plans to being banished.

However, he has always found a way back. Like in 2012 when he was sidelined following a disagreement with the coaching staff at the Olympics, he used the HIL to make a strong case to be included in the national team. That stint, however, ended shortly as he was accused of ‘creating disharmony within the team’ — the claims earning him a nine month ban which put paid to his hopes of making it to the Rio Olympics and last season’s HIL.

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With the ban being overturned by the Punjab and Haryana HC, he was picked for the national team for the South Asian Games, where he helped the team to silver.

“Of course, my family and my girlfriend always supported me in those uncertain times. Besides, I kept playing for my employers and even went to play in Malaysia’s hockey league for Sapura FC. These stints helped me maintain my fitness and keep my focus,” he recalls.

His exile from the national team may still be on but the $99,000 that Ranchi forked out to enlist the services of the Punjab Police Deputy Superintendent of Police, speaks volumes for the talent that lies in the player.

“The expectations have grown manifold because of the bid. So have the responsibilities,” says Gurbaj.

For Gurbaj, the bid is a ray of light which signals the end of particularly long tunnel. “I have never let controversies off the field affect my game on it. Since childhood, I’ve always wanted to play for my country. That has been my passion. It still is,” Gurbaj signs off.