Indian defender Lakra optimistic of team's chance at Hockey Champions Trophy
With the Indian men's hockey team preparing to leave for the Men's Hockey Champions Trophy Breda 2018 early next week, chief coach Harendra Singh tested his players with two back-to-back practice matches here at the Sports Authority of India, Bengaluru on Thursday and Friday.
"Playing these two matches at the same time as our first two matches at the Rabobank Men's Hockey Champions Trophy Breda 2018 is critical in terms of adjusting to the tournament match timings," stated the experienced Indian defender Birendra Lakra.
The 18-member Indian team took on the remaining players who are rested for the Men's Hockey Champions Trophy Breda 2018 such as Rupinder Pal Singh, Kothajit Singh along with other players in the camp.
"We play Pakistan on the first day at 2 pm local time followed by the second match on the next day against Argentina at 12 noon local time. Therefore, by playing these two matches against the team of rest of the players in the camp, our bodies will get used to playing high-intensity matches in the afternoon and also help us take the workload of playing back-to-back matches," explained Lakra.
India, who will leave for the tournament from Bengaluru in the early hours of June 19, will begin their campaign against arch-rivals Pakistan.
In the previous edition of the FIH Men's Hockey Champions Trophy held in London in 2016, India had won a historic silver medal after they lost the final match to Australia 1-3 in a tense penalty shootout after scores were tied at 0-0 after regulation time.
The seasoned defender Lakra, who is making a comeback into the Indian squad after having last played during the New Zealand Tour in January this year, is confident of the team's prospects at the important Men's Hockey Champions Trophy 2018 in Breda, the Netherlands, which is slated to be held from June 23.
"We are backed by good training in the lead up to the Rabobank Men's Hockey Champions Trophy Breda 2018 and we are confident of a strong performance," he said further adding that the team's first line of defence starts with the forwards.
"This camp a lot of emphasis was on the first line of defence which starts with the forwards. Their positioning is the key in defence and we have worked on it. We also worked closely with Chris Ciriello on PC defending, our positioning during PC defending as well but the purpose is to not concede PCs in the first place," Lakra.