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Back from injury, Rupinder Pal is ready for big challenge at Hockey World League Final

Staging a comeback to the Indian side at the Hockey World League Final after a gap of almost five months, Rupinder Pal Singh is looking at the 10-day mega event as a big opportunity to regain confidence.

other sports Updated: Nov 29, 2017 13:10 IST
Sharad Deep
Sharad Deep
Hindustan Times, Bhubaneswar
FIH Hockey World League Final,Hockey World League Final,HWLF
Rupinder Pal Singh last played for Indian men’s hockey team in the Azlan Shah Cup in April-May before missing the Hockey World League Semifinal in London this June, after suffering a hamstring injury.(Getty Images)

Hockey is a serious business for Indian defender Rupinder Pal Singh, and he wants to keep it like that even if he is playing in a practice match.

Rupinder scored both the goals for the Indian men’s hockey team against Olympic champions Argentina in a practice match ahead of the FIH Hockey World League Final (HWLF) in Bhubaneswar, and was visibly happy with his performance.

“That’s what I always like to do as for me every game is important. I try to give my 200 per cent,” Rupinder said on Wednesday.

Staging a comeback to the Indian side at the Hockey World League Final after a gap of almost five months, Rupinder is looking at the 10-day mega event as a big opportunity to regain confidence.

“It’s the toughest phase of my career as returning to the side after injury lay-off isn’t easy. I have to play a bigger role on the home turf (in this tournament),” he said.

The 27-year-old drag-flick specialist and penalty-corner expert accepted he was a bit worried as recovery from the injury was taking more time. It was his patience and support of the family that helped him bounce back.

“I could not have dreamt of staging a comeback to the side had my family not been with me in my days of crisis. Everyone consoled and encouraged me to make a comeback,” recalled Rupinder, who last played for India in the Azlan Shah Cup in April-May before missing the Hockey World League Semifinal in London this June, after suffering a hamstring injury.

Accepting that HWLF, starting on December 1, was a big challenge, Rupinder promised to put his best foot forward. “It’s a fresh start for me and quite a challenging one too. But this is what makes one stronger,” he added.

Rupinder’s absence had helped Junior World Cup winning Indian team defender Harmanpreet Singh to showcase his drag-flicking skills, and he was impressive as well. Presence of these two in the playing XI would be a big boost for India.

“I enjoy my positioning in defence and hitting penalty corners isn’t my top priority,” said Rupinder. “I would love to play my natural game of defence, and if required, I won’t hesitate in hitting penalty corners, which you normally don’t get in a match. But defence is always required in the 70-minute duel.

“I really missed the action at the HWL Semifinal in London but this time I won’t let the opportunity go out of my hands,” he added. “Playing before home crowd would be an advantage and I would try to make full use of opportunities, if given to me in the matches here.”

First Published: Nov 29, 2017 13:10 IST