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Hockey World Cup: Harmanpreet Singh wants to make amends against Belgium

Harmanpreet Singh is now among the three short corner specialists for India in the World Cup. The Punjab player is the leader of the pack which includes Amit Rohidas and Varun Kumar.

other sports Updated: Nov 30, 2018 17:45 IST
Sandip Sikdar
Sandip Sikdar
Hindustan Times, Bhubaneswar
Hockey World Cup,Harmanpreet Singh,India men’s hockey team
Harmanpreet Singh (R) of India passes the ball during the FIH Men's Hockey World Cup Pool C match between India and South Africa at Kalinga Stadium.(Getty Images)

It has been an eventful journey for Harmanpreet Singh. From being a back up for penalty corner specialists Rupinder Pal Singh and VR Raghunath, the 22-year-old is now India’s primary drag-flicker in just two years time.

Harmanpreet is now among the three short corner specialists for India in the World Cup. The Punjab player is the leader of the pack which includes Amit Rohidas and Varun Kumar.

Harmanpreet missed a couple of penalty corner opportunities in the first game against South Africa. But remains positive about his chances against Belgium on Sunday and feels India have an advantage after practicing on the new pitch for most of November.

“We are trying to learn from our mistakes and rectify them. If you look at the last few tournaments, we’ve been doing well. Our preparations have been good. We got a lot of time to get used to this new ground ahead of the World Cup. We are used to the surface now,” said Harmanpreet, who made his debut in 2016 at Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh, Malaysia.

But Harmanpreet said he is equally focused on his primary role of a defender.

“Earlier, I used to do a lot of man-to-man marking but now I play as a free player. I try to learn from every tournament, I am gaining experience slowly,” said Harmanpreet, who was part of India’s 2016 junior World Cup winning squad in Lucknow.

The three drag flickers have been learning different variations from

analytical coach Chris Ciriello, who is considered among the best penalty corner specialists during his days who helped Australia to the 2014 World Cup title in The Hague.

“At every step he ((Ciriello) tells us what to do or how to read the game among many other small things which has improved our game. The experienced players also guide us.”

The Australian puts his wards through a rigorous training regimen and Harmanpreet said they share a good rapport with Ciriello on and off the field.

“We get a lot of help from him. He talks about the pace, about attack and defence. He too played as a defender during his time. We have learnt a lot from him, about vision, about passing,” said the Punjab player.

“He comes and talks to us in our rooms. If we have a problem we go and discuss with him. The communication is great between us. Off the field too, the rapport is very good, he is very friendly. We joke all the time. He has played with many of us in the Hockey India League too.”

First Published: Nov 30, 2018 17:45 IST