Bharat Chetri named captain for a purpose

Selectors pick Bharat Chetri as captain for Oz tour with clear plan in mind: In 9-a-side format, the goalie can be most useful in spotting open spaces

India hockey goalkeeper Bharat Chetri yesterday said he was shocked yet happy to be named captain of the national team for next month's tour to Australia. Between October 12 and November 5, India will play in a four-nation nine-a-side tournament that includes Pakistan and New Zealand besides host Australia in Perth, followed by an international tourney in Western Australia.

Super saver: India's Bharat ChetriĀ  attempts to thwart England's Glenn
Kirkham during the 2010 New Delhi CWG

"After training yesterday when coach (Michael) Nobbs said that I would lead the team, I was stunned for a moment. It took me some time to regroup before I thanked him. Captaincy is something I've always dreamed of and I'm glad to have got it," said the 27-year-old, a veteran of over 100 internationals.

Bharat Chetri

The selectors however, made the call based on a well thought out plan. "The nine-a-side format has a unique set of rules, like a widened goal (by one metre), only two defenders, besides the 'keeper, allowed during penalty corners, and long corners being a 5-on-5 affair.

Thus, there will be a lot of open space in the field, and this makes the goalkeeper the most important player as he has to constantly marshal his troops from the back. Bharat has the experience for this, so we picked him," said former India custodian and now selector, AB Subbiah.

Meanwhile, Bharat is ready to scream. "I always shout instructions to defenders. But now I'll have to yell out a lot more and louder," he said.

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