CHENNAI: BY the time Rupinder Pal Singh cuts the call, one word stands out — positive. At one time he says ‘I am positive’. A few minutes later, that changes to ‘I want to remain positive’. At another point in the conversation, he says ‘I have learnt how to be positive’. Those three answers were delivered for three different questions pertaining to the same thing — his injury.
A hamstring injury kept him out of the World League Semifinal but it was believed the issue would be resolved in a matter of weeks. It’s been five months and he is yet to play a competitive fixture since featuring at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in April-May. What exactly happened with the diagnosis? “Well, it began with some pain in the adductor muscle. Then, something was not right with the hamstring. After that, I felt some pain in the quadriceps. I felt pain in the hamstring again.” It was a combination of small injuries and niggles that refused to heal.
It was obviously a frustrating period for the 27-year-old, who had never experienced this sort of an injury lay-off before. “You think the pain has subsided so you take your stick, get kitted and start playing and BAM... before you know it, you feel your hamstring. Some other part is tight. The entire process has to be repeated. In that way, I have learnt how to be positive.”
One can almost hear a sigh of relief in his voice when he declares that he is through with that phase. “I am completely healed now. I have started training with the national team.”
The next phase in the rehab process, however, is still important. “I am able to train without pain but I have to do all my recovery sessions religiously, sleep properly and if I feel anything, I have to consult my physio immediately.”
He is happy to report he hasn’t done that so far. He is, in fact, eyeing a return to the team for the World League Final in Bhubaneswar. “Yes, I think I can make it. I have been working hard, training has been good. Now it’s just a question of doing my basics.”
One man who has profited from Rupinder’s absence is Harmanpreet Singh, the young defender who not only plays in the same position but also excels in the same art — drag-flicking.
His views on watching Harmanpreet from afar also give a peek into Rupinder’s mental make up. “No, I wouldn’t say that I was nervous (of losing my place or anything) whenever he scored. If anything, his performances and the way he’s blossomed gives me more motivation. Just because we’re seniors doesn’t mean that we can’t be replaced. I will have to work very hard if I want to get back into the side and that’s the way it should be.”
Does he think he will survive the cut when Sjoerd Marijne announces the team in a few days? “I am staying positive.”