NEW DELHI: Rajpal Singh was named as the captain of the Indian hockey team for the World Cup after much confusion and drama here on Saturday.
Hockey India (HI), harried and harassed on several fronts, with its very status being questioned by the Union Government, made the announcement after initially indicating to the media that there were a “few issues” to be sorted out and there could be a delay.
The issue turned out to be that over captaincy with the selectors sticking to Rajpal who had led the country in the Champions Challenge II tournament in Argentina in December last, and the Chief Coach, Jose Brasa favouring Prabhjot Singh.
In fact, at least one television channel announced Prabhjot as the captain, followed by PTI. It is learnt his name was announced by the team management in the team bus. There was even talk of having as many as four vice-captains, according to television channels.
Once the news spread, HI had to step in and clear the air about Rajpal’s appointment preventing further speculation. HI went purely by the recommendation of the selectors all of whom were in favour of maintaining continuity.
The selectors, it is learnt, were also concerned about the negative impact that could be created in case Rajpal was not retained the captain since the move could have sent out the wrong signal to the media that the Chandigarh player was being ‘targeted’ for the recent revolt of the players.
The team was finalised after a trial match between India ‘A’ and ‘B’ teams at the Dhyan Chand National Stadium
The trials were watched by B. P. Govinda, Ms. Madhu Yadav, Ms. Sita Mehta (selectors), Ajitpal Singh and Zafar Iqbal (government nominees), Jose Brasa (Chief Coach) and Harendra Singh (National Coach). Muneer Sait and Balbir Singh could not attend the trials.
The task of the selectors was simple: name three players as standbys from among the 21 players who were available.
The team: Goalkeepers: Adrian D’ Souza and P.R. Sreejesh; defenders: Sandeep Singh, Dhananjay Mahadik and Diwakar Ram; midfielders: Gurbaj Singh, Sardara Singh, Bharat Chikara, Arjun Halappa, Danish Mujtaba and Vikram Pillay; forwards: Rajpal Singh (captain), Shivendra Singh, Tushar Khandker, Prabhjot Singh, Sarwanjit Singh, Deepak Thakur and Gurvinder Singh Chandi. Standbys: Mandeep Antil, Birendra Lakra (Sr.) and Vikas Sharma.