New Delhi, Nov.23: India’s senior hockey team has been struggling against higher ranked teams in major tournaments, but its under-21 squad is keeping the national flag flying high. India drubbed arch-rivals Pakistan 6-2 in the finals to clinch the Junior Asia Cup in Malaysia. The youngsters put up clinical performance in the tournament, but the one who stood out was Man of the Tournament Harmanpreet Singh.(Read: Bowlers have helped Indian batsmen: Murali Vijay)
The drag-flicker was the leading goal-scorer of the tournament with 15 goals to his name. His speed, skill and accuracy saw him score hat tricks on three occasions in the tournament. A product of the Surjit Singh academy in Jalandhar, Harmanpreet has impressed one and all with his penalty corner percentage. Fittingly, in the final, the drag-flicker scored four goals against Pakistan.
This is not the first time he has risen to the occasion. In the 2014 Sultan of Johor Cup, Harmanpreet scored nine goals to help India defend the crown successfully. In the same tournament in 2015 where India finished runners-up to Great Britain, he was India’s leading goal-scorer with three goals to his name.
Penalty corner conversion is one area that the senior team has been struggling with quite some time. In the semi-final of the recently concluded Hockey World League tournament in Belgium in 2015, India converted only five out of the 20 penalty corners that went their way, which is a poor conversion rate of just 25 percent. Looking at the senior team’s frailties in penalties, the coaches will be following this penalty corner specialist’s progress very closely and will hope Harmanpreet Singh is the answer to their woes.
(Image credit- hockeyindia.org)