Rupinder owes success to Jugraj

Flickers tale

Heaping praise on his coach Jugraj, Rupinder said the ex-player has worked very hard on him and he owes all his success to him.

“I did not achieve this overnight. My drag flick coach Jugraj has worked hard for that. I owe my success to him,” Rupinder told PTI Bhasha from Ipoh.

“He has been one of the best drag-flickers in the world and taught me a lot about this skill. It is because of him only that I am able to do well against bigger teams like Australia,” he added.

Rupinder has been a significant contributor to India’s fine run in the competition so far. He has scored a hat-trick against Britain, the equaliser against the world champions Australia and then continued with his top form against Malaysia as well.

The 21-year-old from Faridkot, who was a stand-by in the Indian team for Delhi Commonwealth Games and Guangzhou Asian Games, grabbed the opportunity in the absence of India’s regular penalty-corner specialist Sandeep Singh. “My main target is to do well in the Champion’s trophy (in December) and Olympic qualifiers (in February). This is for the first time that I have been included in starting eleven and I want to make full use of this opportunity,” he said.

Short corner has always been a weak link as far as Indian hockey is concerned but Rupinder feels that it is a thing of the past.

“Sandeep, Dhananjay (Mahadik), Diwakar and I have been working hard. We have got variation and more options. I don’t think that our penalty corner is a matter of concern now.”

He also said that there is no rivalry between him and Sandeep. “I always used to take his advice during camps. He has been very supportive,” said the youngster.

All geared up to play his first match against arch-rivals Pakistan on Wednesday, Rupinder is well aware that all eyes will be on him.

“It is my first match against Pakistan. Naturally there is some pressure but I am confident of a decent performance. The goal against Australia was a confidence booster for me and I want to continue the rhythm.”

Rupinder, meanwhile, also rubbished Pakistan captain Muhammad Imran’s claims that their penalty corner specialits are much stronger than India’s. “Sohail Abbas is brilliant drag-flicker. He has the world record against his name but if Jugraj did not meet with an accident in 2003, he might have been the record holder. We have the experience of Jugraj with us and I don’t think that we are inferior to Pakistan in penalty corner area,” he said.

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