Indian women`s hockey team (Pic: AFP)
India women's hockey forward Vandana Katariya feels the team should have played more international matches this year as big ticket events such as Asian Games in China are lined up this year. The most recent assignment for the Indian women's team was in Australia last month, where it was able to record a win only in their fifth and last game on the tour, a 2-1 victory over Australia A, while they lost three (two against Australia senior, one against Australia A) and drew one game (against Australia senior).
The team had a terrific run in the Tokyo Olympics where it lost in the bronze medal match against Great Britain.
"We should have had a little more international matches, we could have had some more games before the Australia tour. But we do not mind it, because the way we train in the camps, all 33 (players) of us take each day of training as if it is a competition day. Having that kind of approach gives us a feel of a match-day," she told PTI in an interview here on Wednesday.
Katariya was a star performer as she became the first player ever from India to score a hat-trick of goals in the last Olympics, during their Pool A game against South Africa. The 31-year-old, however, said it puts no extra pressure on her with the Asian Games and Olympics lined up.
"No, I do not feel there is any extra pressure on me. For a player, whichever level you are playing at, be it even for district or state, there is a bit of nervousness there. It is important to understand what kind of effect it is having on you, whether it is taking you up or down. For me, it works in a positive way since I am able to do better the next day during the match," she said.
The Indian forward said despite the number of international assignments lined up, the team has full faith in their training.
"It has been good so far. We have been through back to back tournaments, we played some good, competitive games with Australia. All our preparations have been focussed on the Asian Games right now," she said.
Katariya said after the Australia tour, it is important for the team to strike a balance between playing an attacking game and handling counter-attacks from the opposition in case they lose the ball.
"We have learned that we have to remain energetic throughout. We cannot play easy and we must maintain the pace of our game. We have to concentrate more on counter-control, because when we go for our attack and the opposition side is able to regain the ball, it opens up more possibilities of conceding penalty corners and goals. We have experienced that we must concentrate on the defensive side of the game as well at the time when we are on the attack," she added.
(With PTI inputs)