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 January 12, 2002 | 1304 IST

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Hockey squad sweating it out to lift World Cup

The atmosphere in the astro-turf stadium in Chennai is ''charged'' these days and the refrain that some die-hard fans get to hear, as they sit through, conveys the mood: ''Fast! fast!'' coach Cedric D'Souza prompts the players.

''Watch the right half, he is on you,'' ace striker Dhanraj shouts as he also chips in with Cedric in ironing out the folds, as it were, in a players' approach.

Yes, the 25 probables of the Indian hockey team are really sweating it out in the run up to the World Cup competition to be held in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia from February 24 to March 9.

The players are going about the task of ironing out their deficiencies noticed in various international competitions in the last one year as per the agenda set by Cedric in match situations.

Then Cedric goes about the task of explaining the ''remedies'' as the players gather around after playing a 'match'.

Every aspect--be it penalty corner conversion, goal keeping, the halves moving up to strengthen the forward line--is being ironed out as Cedric explains to the mediamen around on what the focus is in the camp.

And as a happy augury, as it were, Indian hockey is in the media's glare again as the three-week camp is going on at full steam.

Television channels are seeking interviews, the most sought after being the coach and striker Dhanraj who had played in the last three world cup competitions. The ace centre forward, who is also donning the role of medio, has been lending his experience to the young Indian team.

Dhanraj is also hogging the limelight, being invited as the Chief guest in schools and functions for a social cause or sporting one.

The camp will conclude on Januray 25 following which the team for the World Cup will be chosen.