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Updated January 12th, 2024 at 15:14 IST

Rupinderpal Singh's mantra for Indian women's hockey team drag-flickers: 'Beat the first rusher'

Penalty corner conversion has been a thorn in the flesh for the Indian women's hockey team of late, and former star drag-flicker Rupinderpal Singh feels the key to success from set pieces is to beat the first rusher.

Rupinderpal Singh
Rupinderpal Singh | Image:AP
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Penalty corner conversion has been a thorn in the flesh for the Indian women's hockey team of late, and former star drag-flicker Rupinderpal Singh feels the key to success from set pieces is to beat the first rusher. Former Indian men's team drag-flick expert Rupinder had a five-day stint with the women's side to fix its penalty corner conversion woes ahead of the FIH Olympic Qualifier beginning on Saturday.

After winning the Asian Champions Trophy here, the Indians had wasted plenty of penalty corners in the subsequent tournaments, including the Asian Games.

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While admitting that defence of other teams have become strong, Rupinder said he worked on the basics of women team's drag-flickers during his camp in SAI, Bengaluru, last month.

"In today's hockey, the penalty corner defence of all teams have become very strong. It's not like before.

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"Gurjit (Kaur) and Deepika are very good drag-flickers and doing well. Both are experienced players. It depends on their planning on the day and how they execute that," Rupinder told PTI.

"The most important thing for a drag-flicker is to understand and execute plans on how to beat the first rusher. So, we have worked on a few variations on how to beat the first rusher during the camp.

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"I didn't want to change their style but I worked on their thinking before the match and on match situations. I mainly worked on their basics. The focus entirely was on basics," he added.

Rupinder, who was one of the stars of India's historic bronze medal-winning side at the Tokyo Olympics, quit international hockey in September 2021.

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The 33-year-old, regarded as one of the best drag-flickers of the country, represented India in 223 matches. Nicknamed 'Bob', Rupinder scored four crucial goals in Tokyo, including a penalty stroke in the third-place match against Germany.

He might have quit international hockey, but Rupinder still hopes to feature in the next Hockey India League, which is set to be revived later this year or early next year.

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"I am still active although I have retired from international hockey. Recently I played in the Australian league and now looking for opportunities in other leagues," he said.

"I hope to play in the HIL but it depends on many factors. It is up to the teams whether they choose me or not. But I am actively training, working on my fitness." Rupinder, who has two Asian Games medals in his kitty -- a gold at the Incheon Games in 2014 and bronze in the 2018 edition in Jakarta, is also actively involved in coaching.

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"I have been pursuing drag-flicking coaching as an expert after retirement," he said. PTI SSC SSC UNG

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Published January 12th, 2024 at 15:14 IST

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