Sandeep Singh: I'm willing to help the Indian team in penalty corners
Former India captain and drag flick expert Sandeep Singh keen to help PR Sreejesh & Co improve penalty corner conversion rate
The Indian hockey team have progressed emphatically from its poor fourth-placed show at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games earlier this year to runners-up at the Champions Trophy in the Netherlands recently. However, if there is one area where skipper PR Sreejesh's side need massive improvement ahead of the crucial Asian Games (August 18 to September 2), it is their penalty corner conversion rate (see box).
Coach Harendra Singh too has admitted that his boys must improve on the penalty corner front in their bid to retain the Asiad gold and with it, seek a direct berth for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Former India captain, one of the world's best exponents of the drag-flick, Sandeep Singh is willing to help Team India in the PC department.
Former India captain and drag flicker Sandeep Singh. Pics/Getty Images; AFP
'Blessed with talent'
"I'm willing to help the Indian team in penalty corners. It's a specialised art and not everyone can be a master at it. I was blessed because it came naturally to me. I learnt it on my own, not from any coach and I will be very happy to pass on my knowledge to my fellow Indian players," Sandeep, 32, whose biopic, Soorma, releases this Friday, told mid-day here yesterday.
Hockey India have already roped in former Australian drag-flicker Chris Ciriello as an analytical coach, while Jugraj Singh, another former India drag-flicker is also part of the set-up. But Sandeep, felt he can still make a contribution. "I have played for the country at the highest level for a number of years, so I know the pressure associated with wearing the India blue jersey.
"Also, I have succeeded in drag flicks against nearly every top team in the world. And of course, I know some of the Indian players and coaches very well too. So, it can only be a win-win situation for the team. If Hockey India feels they can utilise my services, I will be proud to provide my services," added Sandeep, who is also keen to coach at the grassroots level if approached by the administration.
Penalty of problems
Team India had a mere 21.88 per cent penalty corner conversion rate during their Asia Cup title triumph in Dhaka last October. Then, two months later, at the Hockey World League Final in Bhubaneshwar, the rate further dropped to 15.38. At the CWG in April, World No. 6, India squandered as many as eight of their nine penalty corners while going down 2-3 to No. 9 New Zealand in the semi-finals. Last month, in the Champions Trophy final against Australia, India failed to convert even once from four penalty corners.
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