FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup 2023: Hardik is out, Raj Kumar Pal comes in

Team management may have delayed but could not prevent  the inevitable. Team India has finally decided to allow mercurial playmaker Hardik Singh to convalesce and recover from his hamstring injury incurred during the match against England. His place in the team  will be taken by alternate player Raj Kumar Pal. India is scheduled to play its crossover game against New Zealand on Sunday for a place in the quarter finals.

Meanwhile, Hockey India issued  a formal statement saying  “Ahead of India’s crucial crossover match against New Zealand on Sunday, charismatic midfielder Hardik Singh who sustained a hamstring injury during India’s match against England on 15th January will be replaced.  Having rested the youngster for the match against Wales, and subsequent assessment, Hardik has now been ruled out of the FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup 2023 Bhubaneswar-Rourkela.

“Hardik will be replaced by alternate player Raj Kumar Pal.

Talking about the decision made by the team management, Chief Coach Graham Reid said: “Overnight we had to make the difficult decision of replacing Hardik Singh in the Indian Team for Sunday’s match vs New Zealand and the subsequent World Cup matches.”

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“While the injury was not as severe as the initial incident suggested, time was not on our side and after our ongoing thorough rehabilitation process and functional and on-field assessment today, it has been decided that we will replace Hardik with Raj Kumar Pal. While it is extremely disappointing for Hardik personally of course, given how well he played in our first two matches, we are excited at the prospects of Raj Kumar joining the group for the remaining World Cup matches,” Reid added.

Having finished second in Pool D, India will need to win against New Zealand in the crossover match on Sunday to make the Quarterfinal of the FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup 2023 Bhubaneswar-Rourkela, the statement said.

The Indian team had a training session with Raj Kumar Pal for the first time.

Prabhjot Singh

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