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Tuesday, Sep 17, 2019

PR Sreejesh looks at New Zealand hockey meet to regain confidence, fitness

PR Sreejesh is raring to go as he prepares to make a return to the Indian men’s national hockey team at a four-nation tournament in New Zealand starting later this month

other-sports Updated: Jan 08, 2018 19:45 IST
Sharad Deep
Sharad Deep
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
PR Sreejesh (R) is set to make his comeback to the Indian men’s national hockey team in the four-nation tournament in New Zealand.
PR Sreejesh (R) is set to make his comeback to the Indian men’s national hockey team in the four-nation tournament in New Zealand.(Hockey India)

PR Sreejesh, who missed some key tournaments in 2017, including the World Hockey League Final at Bhubneshwar last month, due to a knee injury is back in action and is raring to go.

“I am up for challenges. Feeling fit and energetic with my pads on, I am raring to go,” Sreejesh told Hindustan Times soon after being named in 20-member squad for a four-nation tournament in New Zealand, beginning on January 17. “I had to teach myself to walk and run again during rehabilitation,” Sreejesh said about his injury lay-off.

“Every tournament is important to me and I need to give my best. Even though I was nursing my injuries for the last eight months, I never lost my focus on the game. But my priority was to recover fully from the injury,” he said, adding Hockey India as well as the Sports Authority of India ensured he got the best treatment.

In New Zealand, India will compete with Belgium, Japan and hosts New Zealand at Tauranga and Hamilton, and Sreejesh wants to make this opportunity to get back his confidence and fitness.

“Such events will help me strengthen my fitness and confidence. After recovering from the injury, it’s altogether a different world and to excel in these conditions, I have to give my best,” Sreejesh said.

Sreejesh, however, accepted that for now he is fighting a battle within himself. “I am fighting with myself. I always believe in trying something extra-ordinary and fighting against myself, gives me the biggest confidence boost. Here I am learning the art of winning against myself, working hard on my fitness as well as game.”

In New Zealand, Sreejesh, would be joined by young goalkeeper Krishan Bahadur Pathak, a member of the 2016 Junior World Cup winning team. Pathak was also part of the India ‘A’ team which participated at the Australian Hockey League in September. “Having a competitor in the ranks is always good as it keeps on encouraging you to do well.”

Sreejesh, who has been put on a 12-month probation by Hockey India’s disciplinary committee for taking part in a celebrity charity football match in Mumbai during his injury lay-off last year, claimed that he respects Hockey India’s decision. “Playing in the football match was a one-off incident but my focus has always remained on coming back into the team,” said the ace goalkeeper, who was also banned for 15 days, which ended on Saturday.

Talking about a hectic season ahead for the eight-time Olympic champions India, Sreejesh admitted it will be a tough year but nothing is impossible for a team which has balance and the right mix of young and experience. “There are plenty of big events this year, including the Champions Trophy and the Asian Games. To put Indian hockey into limelight we need to make a collective effort,” he said.

The squad: Goalkeepers: PR Sreejesh, Krishan Bahadur Pathak; Defenders: Harmanpreet Singh, Surender Kumar, Gurinder Singh, Varun Kumar, Rupinderpal Singh, Birendra Lakra; Midfielders: Manpreet Singh (C), Chinglensana Singh Kangujam, Vivek Sagar Prasad, Harjeet Singh, Nilakanta Sharma, Simranjeet Singh and Satbir Singh; Forwards: Dilpreet Singh, Ramandeep Singh, Mandeep Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay and Armaan Qureshi.

First Published: Jan 08, 2018 19:42 IST