Monday, October 14, 2013

Off to test Major Dhyan Chand...

THE national juniors will get a chance to play at the Junior World Cup venue when they head for New Delhi today for a three-test series with the hosts.
    The series will be played at the Dhyan Chand Hockey Stadium, which is the venue for the Junior World Cup on Dec 6-15.
    The three tests will be played on Oct 18, 20 and 21, and coach K. Dharmaraj will make two changes from his silver winning Sultan of Johor Cup side.
    Firhan Ashaari, injured, and Muhammad Azwar will be left behind, while Dangerous Lee and Joel Samuel van Huizen will be tested at the test series.
    “Even though we received a cold shoulder from the India coach (South African Gregg Clark) regarding the status of the team which will play against us in the three tests, I am still happy with the chance to play at the World Cup venue as it will give my players a feel of the artificial pitch.
    “This will be really beneficial for the penalty corner battery, as the flicker, stopper and pusher will know ehat to expect from the Dyan Chand artificial pitch,” said Dharmaraj.
    India are expected to send their junior squad to the Asian Champions Trophy in Kakamigahara, Japan, on Nov 2-10 and might field a mixed side for the tests against Malaysia.
    “Since India juniors are in training now for the Asian Champions Trophy, India coach Gregg is unlikely to field his strongest side against Malaysia as we might play them in the quarter-finals of the World Cup,” said Dharmaraj.
    Malaysia are in Group D of the Junior World Cup with England, New Zealand and South Africa. And in the last-eight cross-over, if Malaysia finish among the top-two in their group, they are likely to meet either Netherlands or hosts India.
    Dharmaraj will name his final squad by Nov 18 and the team will leave for the Junior World Cup on Dec 1.