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Updated: February 25, 2010 23:54 IST

Will Rajpal Singh deliver?

S. Thyagarajan
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Rajpal Singh. File Photo
Rajpal Singh. File Photo

His heart knows the preference of the team for leadership. But circumstances catapulted him to the role as the skipper.

Caught in the cross-current of the clashes between the coach and players on one side and the administration, supported by the selectors on the other, Rajpal Singh is in no position to evoke even a filament of envy.

True, the honour of leading the national team brings him on par with stalwarts like Ajitpal Singh, M.P.Ganesh and Pargat Singh, but the issue of captaincy this time assumed, needlessly, the ugly contours of a controversy.

That such contretemps should erupt weeks before the World Cup makes a sad reading indeed.

Though things appear to have smoothened a bit now, thanks to the sharp rebuke from the Sports Ministry to the Chief Coach's manoeuvres to nominate Prabhjot Singh, but how much of it is simmering is difficult to comprehend at this point of time.

Why in the first place Jose Brasa raised the stink on the issue baffles the selection committee even now. At least one of them confided that never in the history of Indian hockey has the coach taken upon himself the power to select the captain.

It is gathered Brasa was confronted as to why he never mentioned the name of Prabhjot Singh for the earlier tours.

It is imprudent to debate at this juncture the pros and cons of the coach playing a decisive role in the issue of captaincy.

The attention needs to be focussed on how to strengthen the hands of Rajpal Singh in the endeavour to regain a modicum of prestige in the highest echelons of hockey.

Optimism

Rajpal's optimism of a place in the last four can be taken as a chip to trigger the psyche of the players before the team locks horns with Pakistan on the opening day.

With over 100 international caps and a podium finish as captain in the last international, the Champions Challenge at Salta, notwithstanding the 6-3 thrashing against Pakistan, Rajpal Singh's credentials are unquestionable.

His mettle as a striker who can inject an element of vibrancy to the attack has stood the test of time. He is majestic in his dribbles, even mellifluous in parts, and a champion at tapping in the cross from the left. He is however prone to get drowned in the pleasure of ball play thus endangering the frontline to lose its harmony.

Since debut in the Youth Asia Cup in 2001 and the gold at the World Junior Championship at Hobart, Rajpal blossoming into a player of stature in the senior ranks came in 2005 at the Azlan Shah Trophy. For the 27-year old helmsman of the national team the World Cup entails a great responsibility.

The weight of expectation, naturally, is high, and the nation is behind this indomitable warrior to ensure the 12th edition, starting on February 28, marks the resurgence of Indian hockey.

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