Principal Correspondent

HYDERABAD: How to beat the rains?

This was the dilemma for the Indian hockey team, preparing for the World Cup in Germany in September. The think-tank thought the best way to beat the weather was to engage the players in physical conditioning drills.

Derek Knox, the Australian fitness expert, and assistant coach Harendra Singh made sure that the players work out in the fully equipped gymnasium at the GMC Balayogi athletic stadium.

Finest defender

Skipper Dilip Tirkey, one of the finest defenders in contemporary hockey, went through abdomen exercises besides lifting weights.

For more than an hour, the players were on their feet, literally. The ever-smiling Vikram Pillay acted as a de facto trainer giving valuable tips to the teammates in some of the exercises.

The eagerness of star forward Gagan Ajit Singh, who is now on a comeback trail, was yet another pointer to the seriousness with which the players approached their physical conditioning.

Intense desire

Indian chief coach V. Baskaran nursing an intense desire to mould this combination into a winning one and to produce results in the World Cup insists that getting into peak of physical fitness is a pre-requisite now-a-days.

"The best part is that the boys are really enjoying the sessions under Derek (Knox). There is a noticeable desire amongst the players to become fitter. This should be a big plus point about this squad," he said.

The two custodians Adrian d' Souza and Bharat Chetri were given some innovative exercises to improve upon their agility and reaction speed.

Also, the Indian probables engaged in a practice match late in the evening with a local outfit to test their skills on the astro-turf.

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