Piqued at being overlooked for the Champions Trophy and International Sports Series, former skipper Sandeep Singh vows to return to the national squad sooner than later. “It was a shock, because I have given my all every time I have taken field. We didn’t get the desired result in the Olympics, but we had given our best. We lost a few close matches that on a better day could have gone either way,” Sandeep told Express.
But perseverant as he is, he isn’t to budge and wallow over his exit. “It will take some time to digest. But it will only motivate me further. I have been dropped before and I have comeback strongly. I have the fire within me and still a lot left in me for Indian hockey. A lot of senior players have been calling me since, and they have all told me to keep working hard and not to feel disappointed,” he said.
Bracketed among the lethal drag-flickers in the world, Sandeep has been a key component in India’s return to the Olympic fold, and often India’s wins were directly proportional to his strike rate. “There is always pressure on you. When you hit the target, everyone says its routine, but when you miss they magnify it. It’s the way things work. Unfortunately, I had a bad series (Olympics),” he pointed out.
As much as his drooping conversion rate, his defensive infirmity glared out in the Olympics. “I am a much better defender than when I started off. I have worked on a lot of aspects with former players and the improvements were to be seen. I have to keep working and if I continue to do well in the domestic circuit, I can return to the Indian team,” he said.
The 26-year-old believes the team will improve with more fixtures against top teams. “Our quality will improve only if we play top nations like Germany and Australia more often. The Champions Trophy is a great opportunity for them, especially the youngsters in the team,” he said.