India will look to regain lost Olympic hockey glory

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Current World Ranking # 10 (1288 points)

Clubbed with the Netherlands, Germany, New Zealand, Belgium and Korea in Pool B at the London

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Best result: Won gold in 1928, 1932, 1936, 1948, 1952, 1956, 1964 and 1980 Games.

Last Olympics: Did not qualify

India was once the dominant team in world hockey and has the rare feat of winning six Olympic golds on the trot between 1928 and 1956. They had also won a silver and a couple of bronzes but all that was more than 30 years ago when India won its last Olympic medal. In the World Cup also India was initially a formidable force when the sport was played on natural grass. It had won the 1975 WC title. They finished eighth in the last WC played on the home turf while the last time the Indian team featured among the final four of the Champions Trophy was back in 2004. They finished seventh in the 2004 Athens Olympics.

The Road to London:
Clearly shocked by their non-qualification for the Beijing Games, India displayed a performance at the Olympic hockey qualifier in New Delhi this year which reminded one of their glorious old days. They won all their matches with a scoring figure of 44-9 and routed France 8-1 in the final.

Players to watch out for:
Midfielder Sardara Singh, known for his tireless efforts and skills, will be one of India's key men. Sardara was named the player of the tournament in the qualifier tournament. Drag-flicker Sandeep Singh, who scored 16 goals in the qualifying rounds, is another asset to the team. The team will be led by goalkeeper Bharat Chhetri.

1. On their day, the Indian forwards can rattle any defence.
2. Superb drag-flickers in the ranks.
3. High fitness level.

1. Missing on converting penalty corners.
2. Inconsistency.
3. The defence has a tendency to crumble under pressure.

Chances of progress at the London Games: 5/10
Qualifying for the Olympics after a gap of eight years have revived the team's ambitions to do well. But given India's decline in international hockey ever since the introduction of the artificial turf, it would be seen how the team fares in this year's blue and pink turf. India's inconsistent run at the pre-Olympic stage where they have lost to teams like Spain, South Africa and Great Britain with a few draws and wins in between show that the team is yet to pick up the momentum. To make the semi-finals, India have to deliver against top teams like the Netherlands and Germany. India will play their first match against the Netherlands on Jul 30.

Gurwinder Singh Chandi, Bharat Kumar Chhetri (c), Sandeep Singh, Tushar Khandekar, Birendra Lakra, Danish Mujtaba, Sreejesh Parattu Raveendran, SK Uthappa, Dharamvir Singh, Gurbaj Singh, Manpreet Singh, Shivendra Singh, Sardara Singh, SV Sunil, Ignace Tirkey and VR Raghunath. Reserves: Kothajit Singh Khadangbam and Sarvanjit Singh.

Australian Michael Nobbs, a former Olympic player along with the likes of Ric Charlesworth and Terry Walsh, took over as the coach of India. Nobbs made some tough decisions in selecting the Indian team and also implemented a tough physical fitness programme.

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