Focus is on converting opportunities in the circle: Indian women's hockey mid-fielder Nikki Pradhan

The Indian team had gone for an exposure tour to Argentina and Germany early this year after returning to action following a year's break because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite not securing a single win in the entire tour of Argentina and Germany, Pradhan feels the tour provided the team with important stats that will help them prepare for the Tokyo Olympics. (File Photo).   -  R.V.Moorthy

Experienced mid-fielder Nikki Pradhan feels that the Indian women's hockey team needs to improve its goal conversion rate ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.

The Indian team had gone for an exposure tour to Argentina and Germany early this year after returning to action following a year's break because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The good part about these matches was that we were showing improvement match-by-match. Both Argentina and Germany play with very unique styles and facing them in their home ground is always challenging but we held strong," she said in a release issued by Hockey India.

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"I believe we still have a lot of scope to improve in our attack and the focus is on bettering our conversion rate in the circle.

"At the same time, I feel the communication particularly between mid-fielders and forward-line has improved a lot over the past few years mainly because we have played together for so long," she added.

The team, however, didn't have the desired results as it played out three draws and suffered four losses in Argentina and lost all their matches in Germany.

However, Pradhan feels the tour provided the team with important stats that will help them prepare for the quadrennial event.

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"The experience of playing against top teams like World No.2 Argentina and World No.3 Germany has been very crucial in our preparations for the Olympic Games," she said.

"Many youngsters in the team had never faced teams of such calibre and the team's stats against these top teams projects the areas we need to work on and that is the focus of our ongoing national camp." The team is currently preparing for its next exposure tour, which is yet to be decided, given the current surge in COVID-19 cases.

"We don't want to think about whether we will get to play the next tour or not," said Pradhan, who became the first hockey player from Jharkhand to participate in the Olympic Games when she played for India at the Rio Games.

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"With the changing dynamics around the globe due to COVID-19, our chief coach always tells us not to think of the issues that are not in our control."