Rupinder: ‘Jugraj's presence as penalty corner coach will benefit us’

Rupinder, along with talented Harmanpreet, will be India's drag-flick exponents in Malaysia and the team will be banking on them to convert the set piece chances that come their way.

Rupinder Pal Singh calls Jugraj Singh as his my idol.   -  K. Murali Kumar.

Penalty corner expert Rupinder Pal Singh said that having a specialist drag-flicking coach in idol Jugraj Singh will be beneficial for him and his young colleague Harmanpreet Singh in the upcoming Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh, Malaysia.

Rupinder, along with talented Harmanpreet, will be India's drag-flick exponents in Malaysia and the team will be banking on them to convert the set piece chances that come their way. India's chief coach Roelant Oltmans had already emphasised on the importance of improving penalty corner conversation rate and Rupinder is confident that they will live up to the billing in Ipoh.

"We spend one hour everyday specifically for drag-flicks. We are also joined by former India drag-flicker Jugraj Singh who is part of the coaching staff. Jugraj has been my idol and he was also the one to introduce me to drag-flick when I began my career. So working with him has been great," Rupinder said.

"He has been able to help us with finer details which we would otherwise miss. Having a specific coach for drag-flicking along with chief coach Roelant Oltmans has been beneficial and I am confident we will do well in Malaysia," he added.

In the absence of senior players like V. R. Raghunath and Birendra Lakra, Rupinder will spearhead India's back-line along with Harmanpreet, Gurinder Singh, Pardeep Mor and Surender Kumar in Ipoh. So being the seniormost player in the back-line, Rupinder is expected to shoulder the responsibility of guiding the youngsters in the tournament, a role he is happy to take on.

"Yes I do have an added responsibility of guiding these youngsters but I also believe they are ready to take on individual responsibilities. Each of them know what they exactly need to do and how they need to execute the plans. I think they are ready to take on the big teams," the 27-year-old lanky defender said.

Rupinder said that the 40-day camp here involved a lot of hard work and mental conditioning.

"We have a new analytical coach (Hans Streeder) who has brought in some key changes in strategies. We worked on a lot on specific areas and tried out new combinations during match practice. There has been a lot of emphasis on strong defence and I believe it will come down to how we implement these strategies that will help us win matches," Rupinder added.

The Indian team is slated to leave from Bengaluru on April 22 for Ipoh, where the tournament is scheduled to be held from April 29 to May 6.

Besides India, other participating teams in the tournament are title holder Australia, hosts Malaysia, Great Britain, New Zealand and Japan.