Home > Sports > Column > A A Cariappa
Adrian, Viren and Vikram class apart
September 02, 2004
The much-hyped Indian hockey team failed miserably at the Athens Olympics. With just two victories in the tournament, India, outclassed in all departments of the game by the opposition, had to settle for seventh position, like they did at Sydney in 2000.
A review of the players' showing in the tournament:
Dilip Tirkey: One of the few who played their hearts out. Was rock-solid in defence although he lacked support from the other defenders. India still relies on his rasping hits in penalty-corners. But for his decent showing at Athens, India would have conceded more goals.
Devesh Chauhan: Hardly got a chance to defend the citadel. India's No.1 keeper till the team began its campaign at the Olympics was overshadowed by Adrian D'Souza's brilliance.
Baljit Singh Dhillon: Age is fast catching up with him. Has good dribbling skills, but was found wanting when it came to passing. Keeps the ball longer than required, thereby allowing the opposition to wrest the advantage. Takes things too easy upfront sometimes.
Adrian D'Souza: Had a very good tournament. Showed good reflexes and positioning while defending penalty-corners. If not for his splendid goalkeeping, the margin of defeat would have been bigger, particularly in the games against Australia and New Zealand. Adrian has all the makings of a world-class goalkeeper and should serve the country for long.
Arjun Halappa: Was introduced in short bursts, but still proved effective. Has the capability to rip through any defence with his speed and stick work. Combined well with the forwards.
Dhanraj Pillay: Had a very good tournament until he was made to sit on the bench against South Korea. With the half-backs failing most of the time, he had to embrace the role of playmaker. His couple of excellent runs produced goals in key matches against South Africa, New Zealand and Argentina. Still feared by rival teams for his lightning speed and clever passes. His larger than life image, however, is still a problem with his colleagues and coaches.
Vikram Pillay: Had a cracker of a tournament. A much-improved player, his short passes and tackles stood out in all matches. With the forward line failing time and again he excelled as a playmaker.
Adam Sinclair: His only achievement is scoring a goal against South Korea. Was found wanting with his passes and skills. Should know that there is more to hockey than running aimlessly all around the ground.
Gagan Ajit Singh: He must be ruing the chances he squandered in the first few matches. Although he was India's key goal scorer, his trapping was pathetic most of the time. India's best striker at the moment, he has a penchant for scoring dramatic goals when things can be much simpler. Tends to be individualistic too sometimes.
Harpal Singh: It's a pity he had to be blooded in the Olympics! Needs to improve his defending a lot. Was the culprit of losing possession in the key matches, which resulted in goals. Would like to forget the Athens experience as a bad dream.
Prabhjot Singh: Spent more time talking than playing. Was found wanting in trapping and quick passing. Positions himself badly because of excessive dribbling. Must realize that hockey is a team game.
Viren Rasquinha: Also had a good tournament. He is good at tackling and defending, but not as competent in feeding the forwards. A very gutsy player, he has to be careful in the circle while defending. His stop-at-all-costs tactics gifted many a penalty-corner to the opposition.
Sandeep Singh: He had a very bad tournament. His defending and passing skills have to improve dramatically if he intends staying in the team. Was the culprit of gifting away possession on innumerable occasions. On the bench most of the time, he hardly got a chance to prove his drag flicking skills.
Deepak Thakur: Was benched for the latter part of the tournament owing to an injury. In the matches he played, he lacked the punch or firepower he is known for. Failed to combine well with Gagan Ajit and Prabhjot in the forward line.
Ignace Tirkey: Had a lackluster outing. His defending was average, and passing awry. Tends to hold the ball for long, which results in the opposition wresting the advantage. With Harpal and Sandeep failing most of the time, he had a tough job.
William Xalco: One of the newcomers who had a nightmarish tournament. Sidelined for most of the tournament after fracturing his thumb. Has to improve his defending skills.