Sport

We don’t have proper second string team to send to CWG’

The real reasons for Hockey India’s decision to withdraw the men’s and women’s teams from next year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham may be caught in a bit of a haze. But Olympic gold medallist V. Baskaran believes that Graham Reid, the Indian men’s team’s head coach, had a big say in the matter.

“If you look at it, Reid now calls the tune because he has delivered a bronze at the Olympics. So, I think HI has decided to go with him,” said Baskaran, the captain of the triumphant Indian team at the 1980 Moscow Olympics, in a chat with The Hindu.

The hockey champion of the Asian Games at Hangzhou (China, Sept. 10-25) will directly qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics and the problem is the Commonwealth Games (July 28-Aug. 8) take place just a month before that in Birmingham.

“I also feel that we have to focus on the Asiad as it is an Olympic qualification event. We lost in the last Asian Games (India won bronze in 2018 at Jakarta) and we struggled for one and half years to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. We had to travel a lot and do a lot of things.

“We can win it this time because Pakistan is not good, Korea is nothing much. If we win the Asian Games, we will have the same core group and can make the boys better for the 2023 World Cup in India. I think Reid is focusing on filling the vacuum left by players like Rupinder Pal Singh, V.S. Sunil and Birendra Lakra who retired recently, and on qualifying for Paris.”

But won’t the Commonwealth Games, which includes world’s top 10 teams like Australia, England, New Zealand and Canada, offer a wonderful preparation for the World Cup in Bhubaneswar in early 2023? Can’t we at least send a second string team for the Commonwealth Games?

“We have suffered a lot at the Commonwealth Games. Because, there they will give us four continuous games and the competition will be very high. If the development team goes also, it is not going to learn much,” explained Baskaran.

Another issue is that India does not have a proper second string.

“The problem of not having a development team now is because of COVID. There may be players but how will you prepare them. In 2016, our Junior World Cup team was good (India won the title), but the pandemic has taken its toll.

“For the last two years, there was no talent identification, no Khelo India, no Junior Nationals, no Nationals. The problem is, who will we send as the goalkeeper. Sreejesh and Krishan Pathak are seniors (and with the Asiad probables).

“So, I’ll agree 80% with the decision of not sending a team to the Commonwealth Games.”


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Printable version | Dec 4, 2021 5:17:14 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/we-dont-have-proper-second-string-team-to-send-to-cwg/article36885103.ece

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