Harmanpreet Singh: Wait and watch, my goals will come
Penalty corner mainstay Harmanpreet Singh, who is yet to open his account from a drag flick at the World Cup, oozes confidence ahead of the knockout stage
One may misconstrue his attitude for arrogance, but when India's chief drag-flicker Harmanpreet Singh says with conviction that his drag flick goals will come, you can't help but believe him. After all, he arrived for this World Cup on the back of a fine show in India's Asian Champions Trophy-winning campaign in Muscat, where he scored five goals in the tournament, including a hat-trick against South Korea.
Following India's first two league matches of this World Cup, however, the sturdy defender has scored just once, and that too off a penalty stroke in the 2-2 draw against Belgium. He is yet to score off his lethal drag flick despite three direct attempts (two against South Africa and one against Belgium). Speaking about the pressure building up on him given he's the mainstay of the PC department, the Amritsar lad says he'd rather be grateful for the opportunity than be bogged down.
"There is no pressure on me. Against South Africa, we converted two PCs off rebounds, while I took two direct flicks and then one flick against Belgium, so I'm grateful that I'm getting opportunities. Also, all my attempts were saved by the goalkeeper [none were off-target] so that's not a bad sign. My [drag flick] goals will come, you wait and watch," Harmanpreet, 22, tells mid-day at the Kalinga Stadium here.
The Amritsar lad played a crucial part in India's 2016 Junior World Cup-winning campaign in Lucknow, scoring three drag flick goals. So he knows what World Cup pressure feels like. "In big tournaments like the World Cup, all teams are plotting against their opponents. Teams are also closely watching certain key players in the opposition camp, so they are bound to catch one or two of our strong points," added Harmanpreet.
All his flicks so far have been aerial attempts, easily warded off by the goalkeepers' outstretched palm. Harmanpreet realises this and the significance of variations. "The technique for drag flicking aerial balls and ground balls are slightly different. In aerial shots, you get a full swing, while in ground balls you have to put that added effort.
Variations are something I'm always working on. In the past, I have enjoyed a lot of success in ground balls, so as the tournament progresses I will employ my variations," added the flicker who has trained vigorously under former India drag-flicker Jugraj Singh and then under analytical coach Chris Ciriello, also an accomplished drag-flicker for Australia. So, is he saving the best for last? "Yes, you have to keep something back for the big games," Harmanpreet signs off.
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