“We Want To End World Cup Drought”: Forward Lalit Upadhyay

New Delhi: After an impressive second place finish at the Commonwealth Games, the Indian hockey team is looking to make up for disappointment at the FIH World Cup 2018 in Bhubaneswar, Odisha.

The Indian team will face England, Spain and Wales in Group D at the FIH Odisha Hockey World Cup Bhubaneswar-Rourkela 2023.

The Indian team is fortunate to have a unique opportunity to set the record right in front of the home fans, says veteran striker Lalit Upadhyay. “Unfortunately we conceded a goal in the final minutes of the quarter-finals match at the last World Cup in Bhubaneswar, but since then the team has improved by leaps and bounds and we are considered serious contenders for the title. Our goal now is to use the home crowd to put in a brilliant performance and hopefully a medal,” he said.

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Lalit Upadhyay made his national team debut in 2014 and has scored 31 goals in 133 caps. Along with Mandeep Singh, he leads the team’s attacking line. “I take great pride in putting on the Indian jersey every time I step onto the pitch and I always remember that this could very well be the last time I experience something like this. When I started I worked really hard to find my place on the team and worked on my fitness to match the level of the team. In recent years I’ve gotten more consistency in my game and I’m proud to be seen as one of the older players on the team and embrace the extra responsibility that comes with it,” Lalit said of his journey far.

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When asked how he helps younger players on the team, he said: “It’s important to help them build their combination and decision-making with the team. Getting that straight will make it easier to fool opposing defenders and we’ll get the result we want. The only way to build that understanding is to play as a team, for the team and not take all the pressure of scoring goals alone.”

Ahead of their World Cup season at home, they face Spain and New Zealand in FIH Hockey Pro League games starting October 28 in Odisha. Preparations for these games are in full swing at SAI Bengaluru.

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“We have positive impetus from the Commonwealth Games and the Olympic Games. The general public’s attention to hockey over the last few years is a real incentive for us to do our best at camp and at the Worlds. We have worked on areas that we feel need improvement in our training sessions, in meetings and in analysis videos with the aim of improving as a team and individually so that we contribute our best to the team and perform well. With the help of our supporters, we want to get rid of the World Championship draft,” he concluded.

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