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Hockey colts aim to earn valuable exposure from EurAsia Cup

New Delhi: With an eye to the World Cup in Lucknow later this year, the Indian junior men’s hockey team will look to gaining valuable exposure of playing on the big stage at the EurAsia Cup in Russia where they take on Dinamo Stroitel on Saturday.

Defender and captain Dipsan Tirkey is confident about what they have set out to achieve and how to achieve it.

"The idea behind these tours is not just to gain experience individually, but to gain experience as a side. It is important we know each other’s games completely, know the weaknesses and our strengths so that we can play up from them," Tirkey said.

"A large part of this squad has experience of playing in the Hockey India League (HIL), a huge positive for us and for Indian hockey itself, so we can match up to senior squads at a certain level. Now, these kinds of tournaments can reduce the gap even further," said Tirkey in comments that were made available here on Friday in a Hockey India (HI) release.

Coach Harender Singh said: "The idea behind a strong youth team is not just to win and play tournaments at this level, but also have a steady production line of prospects up for the senior team. For that to happen, the gap between the two must not be too varied."

"With Harmanpreet (Singh) and Harjeet (Singh) staking strong claims in the senior side right now, we have already proved that India has a huge depth in talent. Now the trick is to ensure consistency. This has to happen regularly," the coach said.

The junior team trained at a camp in Bengaluru along with their senior team counterparts and the experience has rubbed off positively on all the players.

"Having watched their performance of late, especially in the Champions Trophy, we are highly motivated to ensure the standards do not dip. After all, they have set the bar high now, and following them, it’s our job to ensure this does not dip. We will do our best to learn from the way they played and ensure we produce good performances on the tour," said Tirkey.

India’s EurAsia Cup campaign starts on Saturday and then they will head off to England for a six-match series later in the month.

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