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Kaushik Column
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It's not a good start. (12/9/2005)
--M.K. Kaushik
India did not start the Champions Trophy the way we would have liked to, but I feel nothing to worry much. Indian defence really rose to the level expected. They deserve kudos for that as they did it despite the fact that services of Dilip Tirkey was not available.

I sincerely feel a draw would have been an ideal result, but the stroke we conceded in the half of the match robbed us off those valuable points. I keenly observed the sequences that had led to the umpire awarding the stroke against us. For many it would seem a harsh decision, but in fact it is not. This is where Indian players should understand the difference between playing in India and in the international matches.

The type of offence that Kanwalpreet Singh committed inside the circle would not have got a stroke decision in India. An intentional stick check inside the striking circle is considered a serious offence in the Indian domestic hockey. Stoke is awarded only when a forward player in striking position is obstructed. But I have seen in my coaching career that the international matches such tackling leads to disaster. We do not attach much importance to video viewing and analysis, the result is that we seem to miss many nuances.

Another lacuna I noticed against Spain was that our players do not cover the other. This has given enough space for the rivals to rip apart.

I think captain Gagan Ajit is playing under pressure. He is the most experienced player and should rise above such things.

The forwardline, considered to be our strength, is not moving smooth. I strongly advocate that the services of Tushar Khandker should be availed. He is not a bench player, but a very productive and utility player. He will fill up the vacuum in the team created due to the wrong neglect of striker Deepak Thakur.

Our team does not anticipate certain things. The goal we conceded in the first half speak of this. We have a lot of experienced players in the team, and they should anticipate certain situations and mentally and physically ready to tackle them as and when situation demands. This comes through proper training, not just training but amalgamation of various scientific aspects as well.

Starting a tournament on losing note is not new to us. But we should not hang over on it. Three teams lost on the first day, and any of those teams can finish among the medals. That is all about Champions Trophy format.

Indian players nowadays are getting far more facilities and awards that what it used to be in our days. It is time they motivate themselves to prove their place in the public consciousness. In sport what counts is victory, and they should focus on that. Where else than at home is more appropriate for this than is the case now?

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