Hockey World Cup: Forward Lalit Upadhyay wants to capitalise on home advantage to end medal drought
Lalit Upadhyay believes that the team has developed significantly after the loss at the last Hockey World Cup and they are a serious contender for next year's event.
Bengaluru: Senior men’s hockey team forward Lalit Upadhyay wants to take advantage of the home conditions to end India’s 48-year World Cup medal drought when the country hosts the game’s showpiece event next year.
India are set to host the men’s hockey World Cup for the second consecutive time jointly in Bhubaneswar and Rourkela from 13 to 29 January next year.
In the last edition of the event in 2018, India crashed out in the quarterfinals losing 1-2 to the Netherlands.
“Unfortunately, we conceded a goal in the dying minutes of the quarterfinal game in the previous World Cup in Bhubaneswar but since then the team has improved leaps and bounds, and we are considered as serious contenders for the title,” Upadhyay said.
“Our aim now is to take advantage of the home crowd to showcase a scintillating performance and hopefully win a medal,” he added.
India are placed in Group D in the World Cup alongside England, Spain, and Wales.
Since making his debut in 2014, Upadhyay has so far turned out for India in 133 matches and was also a member of the team’s historic bronze medal-winning side at the Tokyo Olympics.
But Upadhyay, who has 31 goals to his name, is in no mood to take his place in the team for granted.
“I feel very proud while donning the Indian jersey every time I step onto the pitch, always keeping in mind that this could very well be the last time I experience this.
“When I first joined, I worked really hard to make my place in the team and worked on my fitness to match the level of the team,” he said.
“Over the last few years, I have gotten more consistency in my game and I’m proud that I’m considered one of the senior players in the team and embrace the added responsibilities that come along with it.”
Prior to the World Cup, India will face Spain and New Zealand in the FIH Hockey Pro League matches to be held in Odisha from 28 October.
“We have positive momentum from the Commonwealth Games and Olympics. The awareness among the general public for hockey in the last few years is a real motivation for us to give our best at the camp and the World Cup,” Upadhyay said.
Akashdeep Singh's hat-trick in vain as Australia defeat India in high-scoring thriller, lead five-match series 1-0
Akashdeep Singh (10th, 27th, 59th) scored thrice but the Aussies prevailed in the end as Blake Govers (57th, 60th) found the back of the Indian net twice from penalty corners in the dying minutes of the game.
The famous win also kept the five-match series alive with Australia leading 2-1.
The Kookaburras, who had registered a narrow 5-4 victory in the opening game on Saturday, extended their winning streak against the Indians to 12 matches with the latest result.