Hindustan Times (Jalandhar)

In­dia open vs Ja­pan in four-na­tion hockey

- Press Trust of In­dia sportsdesk@hin­dus­tan­times.com n

TAU­RANGA (NEW ZEALAND): In­dian men’s hockey team will look to make a win­ning start to the new sea­son when they take on Ja­pan in their open­ing match of the Four Na­tions In­vi­ta­tional Tour­na­ment here.

In­dia will also play Bel­gium and New Zealand apart from Ja­pan in two sep­a­rate Five-Day Series.

With four days of train­ing at the Blake Park and get­ting used to the con­di­tions here, drag flicker Rupin­der Pal Singh ex­pressed con­fi­dence of a good start to the new sea­son.

“The mood in the team is up­beat. We have clocked some good ses­sions on the pitch, now we are look­ing for­ward to a good start,” said Rupin­der who will be lead­ing the team’s de­fence along with Biren­dra Lakra, Suren­der Ku­mar, Har­man­preet Singh, Varun Ku­mar and Gurinder Singh. “This be­ing the first tour­na­ment of the year, it is im­por­tant to win some good matches to get the mo­men­tum go­ing,” he added.

Against Ja­pan, In­dia has a good record as they had be­gun their suc­cess­ful out­ing in Men’s Asia Cup last year with a 5-1 win against them.

While en­sur­ing In­dia re­main un­beaten against Asian teams is one of their goals, Rupin­der em­pha­sized on con­sis­tent per­for­mance es­pe­cially against teams like Olympic Sil­ver Medal­list Bel­gium who they play in their sec­ond match on Jan­uary 18. “We did well against them in the Odisha Men’s Hockey World League Fi­nal Bhubaneswa­r 2017 but it’s im­por­tant to come up with con­sis­tent per­for­mance against a team like Bel­gium in the lead up to ma­jor events this year,” he said. “We must en­sure our de­fence is ac­cu­rate and it’s good to have Sree­jesh back in the team. His ex­pe­ri­ence is crit­i­cal against higher ranked teams.”

He fur­ther said that matches in New Zealand will help him im­prove his per­sonal game go­ing into an all-im­por­tant year. “Per­son­ally, for me I am look­ing to build on my per­for­mance both in de­fence and drag flick from the pre­vi­ous event in Bhubaneswa­r,” Rupin­der said.

 ?? PTI ?? In­dia will also play Bel­gium and hosts New Zealand in this in­vi­ta­tional tour­na­ment series.
PTI In­dia will also play Bel­gium and hosts New Zealand in this in­vi­ta­tional tour­na­ment series.

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