Though the Bangladesh Hockey Federation (BHF) are hosting second string Indian hockey team as part of the national team's preparation for September's World Hockey League as well as the Asian Games, the visiting side's players are eager to grasp this opportunity in a bid to make their way into India's first-choice squad.
In request of the BHF, the Hockey India (HI) sent an 18-memebr squad, a mix of experienced and young players, for a three-match series against Bangladesh as their number one side has just participated in the Commonwealth Games where they became runners-up.
“There are a lot of young players in this side who are eager to secure their places in the senior side ahead of the Asian Games. So it is an opportunity for all the players to prove their worth in a bid to make it to the national side for the Asian Games,” said the visiting side's captain Vickramkanth at a press conference at the BHF conference room, having arrived in Dhaka earlier in the morning.
Apart from the captain, coach Tushar Khandeker and manager Harendra Singh attended the press conference while the rest of the squad travelled to Bangladesh Krira Shikkha Protisthan (BKSP) straight from the Hazrat Shahjal International Airport. The first match of three match series will be held at the BKSP today while the two remaining matches will take place on August 8 and 9 at the same venue.
Bangladesh generally get opportunities to play against Indian's national side in the Asian Cup, Asian Games and the recently introduced World Hockey League where Bangladesh's experience has so far been bitter. Bangladesh suffered a massive 1-9 defeat in their last meeting against India in 2013 Asia Cup finals while earlier that year they conceded a 2-5 defeat in the World Hockey League.
But Bangladesh have offered some good fight against India's second-string side during the 2010 South Asian Games where they played out a 3-3 draw in the group-stage match and it is expected that Bangladesh will get a good opportunity to emulate that performance.
“Bangladesh are a good side. Whenever we played against them, the matches have been good,” said Tushar. “The ranking of the Indian team (9) is a bit higher than Bangladesh (30), so obviously Bangladesh will be benefitted from the series.”
Manager Harendra Singh however believes that this type of bilateral series will help both the neighbouring countries in improving their hockey and this series is just the beginning.
“This series is going to help Bangladesh select their squad for the Asian Games and I'm sure Bangladesh will show their true colours in the Games in Korea,” said Harendra.
Harjot Singh (GK), Sushant Tirkey (GK), Talwinder Singh, Gurjinder Singh, Gurmail Singh, Yuvraj Walmiki, Lalit Kumar, Uthappa Sannuvanda, Satbir Singh, Nithin Thimmaiah, Harjet Singh, Vikas Vishnu Pillay, Harbir Singh, Gurinder Singh, Devindar Sunil, Jasjit Singh, Vickramkanth and Yousuf Affan