India will shine at Champions Trophy: Raghunath

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Bengaluru, May 10 (IANS) Veteran defender V.R. Raghunath believes that the Indian hockey team is poised to peak at the right time and will do well at the Champions Trophy next month.

“Ever since the Asian Games gold in 2014, the team has started to believe in itself again. We never wanted to come down from that stage and only wanted to climb up. We had a ranking of 12-13 before 2014. Recently we were placed No.6 and currently we are ranked No.7 in the world. No opponent takes us lightly anymore and they talk about us as a team that does well in knockouts,” Raghunath said in a statement.

“I believe we have a bright chance and we are moving in the right direction for the upcoming tournaments,” the 27-year-old added.

As one of the seniormost members of the team, Raghunath feels that one cannot get complacent about being the most experienced player.

“Nobody can take their place in the Indian team for granted, you have to constantly prove yourself. Anyone who performs well will be in the squad and personally for me, I would like to test myself against big teams like Australia, Germany and Netherlands in the upcoming tournaments and analyse my performance,” the penalty corner specialist said.

“The priority will be to convert maximum penalty corners so that my team is in a comfortable spot in the first two quarters,” he added.

Commenting on the ongoing preparations for the Rio Olympics at the SAI centre here, Raghunath said that the players like to remind themselves of the lost opportunities where they could have done better and push each other harder during practice.

“I feel we are best prepared than ever before for a big tournament, be it physically, mentally or even psychologically. We not only focus on improving individually but also encourage each other and tell ourselves that we need to perform as a unit to leave a mark at the Olympics this time,” the dragflicker said.

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