Bhubaneswar: After nearly six months of anxious wait, the moment is finally here when drag-flick specialist Rupinder Pal Singh returns in India colours at the year’s biggest tournament – Odisha Men’s Hockey World League Final Bhubaneswar 2017.
It was an injury that kept him out of action, but it is his unwavering willpower that has brought him back in a new avatar.
He is lethal, he is aggressive and he stands tall forming a wall before the Indian defence.
In India’s first warm-up game he scored two goals through a penalty corner and a penalty stroke against Olympic Champions Argentina and in the match against England the team drew 1-1 with India’s defence constantly pressing in England’s 15-yard mark, making it difficult for them to enter the circle.
“This is a fresh start for me. I am playing for a while and my intent is to bring a lot of energy on the field. I have learnt new things during this injury period and one of the biggest changes is how I perceive a match.
I want to bring a positive energy into the game and have an attitude that makes you stand firm against the opponent, communicate more at the back. I have waited for this moment very patiently and I am eager to do well here,” sounded off Rupinder Pal Singh.
While the Indian team’s attack is on the rise in their recent performances, the players understand the importance of defence too, explains Rupinder.
“Personally, the defence is my top priority because if you saw our practice match against England, we couldn’t get PCs. My belief is that defence wins matches and it’s not that just defenders need to protect our goal post, it is the entire 11 who need to ensure we don’t concede and that’s exactly what we are focused on,” expressed the seasoned drag-flicker.
On India’s arrival in Bhubaneswar, Chief Coach Sjoerd Marijne has emphasized the importance of warm-up matches specifically for Birendra Lakra and Rupinder Pal Singh who are coming back into the team after a long lay-off.
Rupinder says the two matches against Argentina and England has put the team in competition-mode. “Physically and mentally it’s important to feel the momentum of the tournament and the competition. There are small areas where we think we can improve before going into our first match against Australia,” he added.
Apart from his own role as drag flicker and defender for India, Rupinder also plays the role of a mentor guiding youngsters Varun Kumar, Harmanpreet Singh, Dipsan Tirkey and Amit Rohidas in the backline. “They know their role well and execute them to perfection but as a senior, I motivate them to get the best out of them and they too keep me in high spirit,” he stated.
On December 1, India will take on defending champions Australia in their first Pool B match and going by the energy, the host team brought to the fore in their warm-up matches, we can expect a nail-biting contest.