Shivendra Singh back for the first time since the Olympic Games debacle

The Indian men’s team for the Hockey World League (HWL) Round 3 was named here on Wednesday. Barring one name, the rest are on expected lines. The exception was Shivendra Singh, named in the National side for the first time since the Olympics debacle.

The lanky forward was one of the seven senior players who were dropped after the London disaster, where India finished last among 12 teams. “It was very tough sitting out at that time. But the most important lesson I learnt was that you cannot have an ego if you have to fight for your place to represent the country,” Shivendra said.

Extra pressure

Being among the senior-most players, there was extra pressure on Shivendra to prove himself to a team management that had its long-term focus on youngsters. “What hurt after the Olympics was I being blamed individually in a team event. I have always given my best for the team.

“But I kept focus on my game and never thought that I was a senior who should be given special preference in selections. I was repeatedly named among the stand-byes during this period and that was very tough. My only target was to be among the best and compete hard but fair during training and force my way back,” he said.

Injuries did not help his cause as Shivendra was sidelined first with an ankle injury for more than two weeks. “When I came for the last camp, I had a long talk with the coach (Michael Nobbs). He said that he would love to have some experience in the team but for that, I had to prove my fitness and performance,” Shivendra added.

Sandeep recalled

Drag-flicker Sandeep Singh has also been named in the squad, led by Sardar Singh, after being part of the preparatory team that toured Europe recently. The HWL Round 3 will be played in Rotterdam from June 13 to 23.

The selectors agree. “Both Sandeep and Shivendra have managed to make a comeback on the basis of their performance and fitness. During the camp they proved they still have the fire to represent India,” a national selector said.

The team will miss the services of midfielder Danish Mujtaba and striker Gurvinder Singh Chandi because of injuries. While Chandi is suffering from an ankle injury, Mujtaba has a ligament tear.

The squad

Goalkeepers: P.R. Sreejesh, P.T. Rao.

Defenders: V.R. Raghunath, Sandeep Singh, Rupinder Pal Singh, Harbir Singh Sandhu.

Midfielders: Birendra Lakra, Sardar Singh, Manpreet Singh, Kothajit Singh, Gurmail Singh.

Forwards: S.V. Sunil, Shivendra Singh, Chinglensana Singh, Nithin Thimmaiah, Dharamvir Singh, Akashdeep Singh, Mandeep Singh.

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