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Monday, December 06, 2021

Hard hitter, tall forward and a poacher: the make-up of junior India hockey team

Key players from India’s 18-member squad for the Junior World Cup:

Written by Mihir Vasavda | Bhubaneshwar |
Updated: November 24, 2021 2:16:40 pm
(clockwise from left): Sanjay; Vishnu Kant Singh; Sudeep Chirmako; Araijeet Singh Hundal; Vivek Sagar Prasad

Hardest hitter, a drag-flicker

India have three or four options from penalty corners but Sanjay, the team’s vice-captain, is among the best drag-flickers in this team. He is considered one of the hardest hitters of the ball in the country, including the senior players. His flicks are power-packed and he’s routinely able to find the corners, making it difficult to stop. Shardanand Tiwari is another good option for India on set-pieces.

The maestro in midfield

India are spoilt for options in midfield but 19-year-old Vishnu Kant Singh will be the one to watch out for. He is known for his exceptional stick skills, has fast hands and has impressed the coaches with his decision-making skills on the ball. The midfielder from Uttar Pradesh has been with the team for the last three years and can also play as a centre-half.

Prasad, the creative outlet

Vivek Sagar Prasad made his senior team debut at an age when most others fight for a place in the junior squad. In 2018, aged 17, he became the second-youngest player to represent India. Now, he will captain the junior team. The crafty centre-half is the team’s creative outlet. He is constantly on the move, creating space and making himself available to receive passes. He’ll be the key man for India in this tournament.

Hundal, the tall forward

At roughly 6-foot-3-inches, Araijeet Singh Hundal is the tallest player in the forward line, and one of the tallest strikers to play for India. He has a powerful shot both on his forehand and backhand, and his height gives him a big advantage in terms of reach. India hasn’t had a tall forward and Hundal can potentially be that player for the team.

The poacher

Partnering Hundal, the towering forward, is one of the tiniest players on the field, Sudeep Chirmako. The striker from Sundergarh proved his worth during the Youth Olympics, displaying outstanding goal-scoring skills and a very good hockey brain, with the knack of getting into the right positions at the right time.

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India’s schedule (Pool B):

November 24: vs France, 8pm

November 25: vs Canada, 7.30pm

November 27: vs Poland, 7.30pm

Knockout rounds:

Quarterfinals: December 1;

Semifinals: December 3;

Finals: December 5

Group stage matches live on: https://watch.hockey/

Knockout matches live on Star Sports Network

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