Hockey India selectors took the decision of giving exposure to youngsters ahead of a busy year in which India will play four big tournaments — Commonwealth Games, FIH Champions Trophy, Asian Games and FIH World Cup. Junior world cup Read: No place for Sardar Singh as Hockey India announce squad for four-nation tournament in New Zealand.
The duo got rewarded for their promising performance at the 7th Sultan of Johor Cup last year. Where the team returned home with the Bronze medal. While Vivek had led the team with great determination and played an instrumental role in the midfield. Dilpreet was India’s goal-getter with nine goals in six matches to his credit.
The move may be disheartening for some fans. Youngsters like Vivek have been named ahead of Sardar Singh in the midfield. Whereas, India’s strength lies in the forward line, inspite of a great bench strength, selectors have given weightage to youngsters like Dilpreet.
The move have clearly indicated the large scale future plan of Hockey India. There would not be any official statement regarding the place of youngsters in the team. But Hockey India is allready eyeing the Junior world cup title defense.
Harmanpreet Singh who is a key part of India’s backline and plays an important role in converting the penalty corner, started to play for the senior team before 2016 Junior world cup. Singh was picked in the Indian squad for Olympics, where India eventually ended up at a dismal seventh. This was a great learning experience for the youngster which proved fruitful in Junior Hockey World Cup for India. He played a vital role in India’s triumph to glory, and stood rock strong at Indian backline. The boy from Amritsar also scored when the team needed the most.
Mandeep Singh is known for his fast and skilful hockey, which makes him a great goal scoring prospect for senior national team. Mandeep made his debut way back in 2013, after a successful Hockey India League season with Ranchi Rhinos. The fierce striker, appeared for India in 2015 Champions trophy, where they lost to Australia in the finals, ending up with a historic Silver medal. The amount of exposure he got in senior circuit, made him a lethal prospect when he played for India in Junior world cup. His fast paced runs with quick counter attacks were devastating for the opposition, he scored 3 goals in India’s winning run.
Vikas Dahiya played an integral role at India’s goal in Junior World Cup. The boy from Haryana appeared in Rio Olympics for India, which gave the right exposure to him. The experience he gained playing for National team, proved worthy for India in Junior world cup. He stopped Australia’s run in semi final, where India had to battle it out in the Penalty shoot out after the full time scores of 2-2. Dahiya saved three penalties and India won it by 4-2.
These three youngsters utilized the experience they gained playing for the national side. Hockey India may follow the same policy by introducing youngsters like Vivek Prasad and Dilpreet Singh in the national side. And eye title defense by making a strong core team for next edition of Junior world cup. Next edition of the Junior World Cup is scheduled to be held in 2019. With venue yet to be decided by FIH.
It may be early to assume the future plans of Hockey India in respect to Junior hockey development. But equipping the youngsters may make India’s bench strength more fierce and give more options to the selectors. Following India’s busy schedule, Hockey India may introduce more young players from the Junior hockey team.
and but Junior world cup