Hockey

India seeks to improve its performance

Michael Nobbs' stress on fitness and attack has come to the fore in India's ongoing five-match hockey Test series against South Africa.

India notched up two consecutive wins in contrasting style. Wednesday's rest day was the ideal time for chief coach Nobbs to formulate new strategies based on what he saw in the first two matches.

The Indian players, showing their improved fitness and agility, played attacking hockey in the first match to blank the visiting team 4-0. In the second, against a far better South African side, the host managed a narrow 2-1 victory.

“We changed nine players (for the second match). We never played with such combinations. We committed a lot of unforced errors,” said Nobbs, who admitted the performance of the side must become better.

Sandeep's showing

The most notable factor in the second win was drag-flicker Sandeep Singh's showing upfront. A shaky defender, Sandeep was tried as an attacker in Australia and again in the current series.

“This will make him versatile,” said Nobbs, raving about Sandeep's mastery in penalty corner conversions.

Two youngsters have also impressed everyone in the series so far. Defender Harbir Singh and forward S.K. Uthappa have given a good account of their abilities to win accolades from Nobbs.

While many players have been given a chance to prove their worth in the first two engagements, several others, including some experienced and promising players, are waiting for their turn in the rest of the series.

Even though only 18 will be selected for the Olympic qualifier, the rest need not feel disheartened. Nobbs, with his eyes set on long-term goals, has already made his plans clear about forming a large pool of players with four or five of them fighting for one slot.

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Printable version | Apr 2, 2020 11:29:46 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/hockey/India-seeks-to-improve-its-performance/article13370993.ece

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