India’s World Cup campaign got off to the worst possible start after striker Ramandeep Singh suffered a nasty injury during a warm-up match against Argentina in The Hague, which ruled him out of the tournament. He will be replaced by Lalit Upadhyay, who left for Holland on Sunday night.
The 21-year-old seriously damaged his right eye socket and cheek bone while trying to stop a scoop from an Argentine player in the second half. The full-blooded shot hit him directly in the eye. Ramandeep was immediately rushed to a nearby hospital where a surgery was performed, Hockey India said in a release.
He was accompanied by India’s high performance director Roelant Oltmans. The extent of damage wasn’t immediately known. “He was playing well and was looking sharp till he got injured. We are more concerned about his vision. We are waiting to hear from Roelant and Terry (Walsh), who are with him at the hospital. No one knows how bad it is. Hopefully, it won’t be very serious,” a team member said.
Ramandeep made his India debut in September last year and has been a regular in the squad since, filling the void of a goal-poacher that India had. His reputation was further enhanced when he became the highest-paid player in the Hockey India League after he was picked by Oltmans-coached Uttar Pradesh Wizards.
Ramandeep’s replacement Upadhyay too is considered to be among the bright young players in the country. Upadhyay was impressive during the HIL, where he played for Walsh’s Kalinga Lancers.
Five years ago, goalkeeper Baljit Singh too suffered a serious injury to his right eye during training. He nearly lost vision but the injury brought a premature end to a promising international career. India, meanwhile, lost the warm-up tie. India will play one more practice match against South Africa on Wednesday before kicking-off their campaign against Belgium on Sunday.