Hockey

Injured Lakra may miss Olympics

Indian hockey continues to struggle in an Olympic year. After the recent controversy surrounding Sardar Singh, the team has now suffered a blow with key defender Birendra Lakra being ruled out of action with a serious knee injury.

Lakra, who was named Hockey India’s Player-of-the-Year last year, suffered a ligament tear in his right knee during his team Ranchi Rays’ match against Dabang Mumbai on February 3. He will stay on the sidelines for the remainder of the Hockey India League and will be consulting renowned orthopaedic surgeon Anant Joshi later this month.

While the Ranchi team management is hopeful of a quick recovery, sources said the next 15-20 days would be crucial for the 24-year-old.

“We have to see. He started swimming today so we are hopeful, but, to be honest, the next two weeks will be critical for his recovery.

“Knowing Lakra, we know he will do everything to get back on his feet soon but a ligament tear is not something to be taken lightly,” the source said.

Halappa to replace Lakra

Lakra has been replaced by former India player Arjun Halappa in the HIL. Interestingly, the 35-year-old Halappa is also a National selector and last played briefly for the Mumbai franchise in the last season.

Also, he wasn’t part of the reserve list of players following the HIL player auctions last year, which did not figure any Indian player above the age of 30. In fact, Delhi Waveriders has also called up veteran 34-year-old Vikram Pillay, to replace an injured Amith Gowda.

Rays coach Harendra Singh said the team wanted an experienced player as replacement.

“There is no one of Lakra’s calibre now among his contemporaries in India so we thought of getting someone experienced. We were asked to name any player we wanted and so we picked Arjun. In fact, we realised we could go out of the reserve list after we got to know that Vikram had been approved for Delhi by the organisers,” Harendra told The Hindu.

Sources said both Delhi and Ranchi franchises had also sought the services of Gurbaj Singh, but the player is currently with the Indian team at the SA Games.

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Printable version | Mar 30, 2020 10:34:40 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/hockey/injured-lakra-may-miss-olympics/article8210291.ece

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