Balbir unhappy with 'keepers

Balbir unhappy with 'keepers

“Overall, I am really happy with the performance of the boys,” Balbir said as fellow HI selectors BP Govinda, AB Subbaiah, Harbinder Singh and government observer Dilip Tirkey went about finalising the team that will represent the country for the Ordos, China (September 3-11) meet.

“There has been a marked improvement since I last saw them a few months ago. The defence has improved, the midfield did well while the forwards showed spunk and creativity. Most important of all, we did well in the penalty corners. Most often, we are found wanting in that department but Rupinder Pal Singh and Sardar Singh did an excellent job with the variations. The other drag-flickers also showed good consistency.

“However, I am not happy with the goalkeepers. They conceded some silly goals. We definitely need to improve a lot in that department. Probably, they had a bad day,” added the former India international.

The two-day trials went off well with 45 of the 48 national probables trying their best to impress the wise men. The 45 were split into four teams and were pitted in a match against each other, the focus being on 24 core players. While most of them did fare well, thanks to the near 45-day training, what caught the eye was the innovation in penalty corners. On four instances, rising star Rupinder Pal sold a good dummy to Sardar, whose stinging reverse hits were too hot to handle even for main goalkeeper Bharat Chetri.

Rating India’s chances at the Asian Champions Trophy as ’50-50’, Balbir said the team needed time to settle down. “They are playing for the first time under coach Michael Nobbs. The tournament will serve as a good warm-up for the bigger events. It’s going to be a tough ask but I have confidence in the boys.”

The 18-member team for China is likely to be announced on Tuesday. HI Executive Director Anupam Gulati said the second phase of the camp would conclude on August 27 or 28.

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