Youngsters keen to make an impact after senior team call-up

Varun Kumar and Armaan Qureshi are taking their first steps on the senior circuit as part of the Indian side for the five-match Europe tour after being asked to join the senior camp last month.

Varun Kumar... “The climb up from junior to senior level is very different but I am getting used to it.”   -  K. Murali Kumar

A month ago, Varun Kumar had won the National B Division Championships but was clueless about the future course of his career. Ditto for Armaan Qureshi, who was part of Air India. Both had been part of the side that lifted the junior World Cup in December last but were out of the core group of seniors.

On Saturday, the duo boarded the flight to Belgium, taking their first steps on the senior circuit as part of the Indian side for the five-match Europe tour after being asked to join the senior camp at the end of July. And both are keen to make this chance count.

“As someone who was omitted from the senior core group initially, I feel I have got a second chance in life to prove myself. This is my debut senior tournament and I am really excited to perform and improve my game as well. At the same time, I want to keep things simple and not get ahead of myself,” Qureshi said hours before team departure.

Lucky break

The Gwalior youngster, in fact, has had a turn of fortunes since then, bagging a job with Indian Oil besides the call-up for national duty. The players had pinned their hopes on being drafted into the newly-formed Development side but had not imagined this lucky break. “Initially it was very difficult in the camp since I came in only recently, but now I am getting into rhythm as per the senior team's training and intensity. The climb up from junior to senior level is very different but I am getting used to it,” Varun admitted.

The youngster would also shoulder the added responsibility of penalty corner conversions on the tour in the absence of senior pros.

“Amit (Rohidas) also takes PCs with me but yes it is a big responsibility. We have worked on our game and variations. I have learnt a lot from Jugraj Singh also in the camp – how to beat the goalkeeper or wrong-foot him, adding force to the flick after dragging it in – a lot of details. It's a golden opportunity and I for one am looking to learn and grow on this tour,” Varun added.

The two are among six uncapped players in the side, others being Dipsan Tirkey, Gurjant Singh, Nilakanta Sharma (all junior World Cuppers) and Suraj Karkera.

India's schedule: August 9 &10: vs Belgium (22:30), 13 &14: vs Netherlands (18:30), 16: vs Austria (21:30).