Sardar: 'Want to play 2018 World Cup'

Sardar Singh, at 31, will assess his game in the Hockey India League as he wishes to play in the 2018 World Cup.

"I am inspired by players like Jamie Dwyer who stayed on top of his game till he was 35-36," said Sardar Singh.   -  M. Moorthy

Almost at the fag end of his career, former India captain Sardar Singh draws inspiration from Australian hockey legend Jamie Dwyer and aims to stay mentally and physically fit for a shot at the 2018 World Cup at home turf.

The 31-year-old, who will lead defending champion Jaypee Punjab in the Hockey India League (HIL), starting January 21, said the upcoming event will help him to assess his present game.

"This year's HIL will be crucial for me as I can assess where I stand and what I need to do to improve my game further. I am inspired by players like Jamie Dwyer who stayed on top of his game till he was 35-36. So, I don't think age is a concern," he said.

"My target is to stay fit physically and mentally till the 2018 men's World Cup in India. I want to be on top of my game at the HIL and ensure a good start to the year," he stated.

The Indian senior hockey team is currently enjoying a long 45-day break after its tour to Australia in November last year, and Sardar feels the rest has done a world of good for him.

"I think this has been the longest break we have got in a while. After a hectic year, with the 2016 Rio Olympics, this break was personally very good for me as it helped me relax my mind, spend some time with the family and also work on my fitness," said Sardar, who is the senior most player in the current Indian team.

"This break has helped me introspect my game and how I want to shape my career going forward. Presently, my first aim is to make the probables list for the national camp in March," he added.

Speaking of his chances in the upcoming HIL, Sardar said: "On paper I think we have the best team and haven't subjected to many chances like other teams. We are the same team including the coaching staff from last year, so we understand each other better.

"But it's important to start the tournament with a win and carry on the momentum. I think the week-long camp before our first match will help the team come together as one unit."

Punjab Warriors will begin its title defence with the first match against Dabang Mumbai on January 27 in Mumbai.