Playing top teams builds pressure: Lakra ahead of Hockey World League Final

ANI | Updated: Nov 21, 2017 23:25 IST

Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India], November 21 (ANI): As India is all set to host the Hockey World League Final, fullback Birendra Lakra, who is making a comeback after a long injury layoff, believes that playing the top teams of the world in front of the home crowd builds some pressure over the team.

"There will always be a little bit of pressure at a big event like this where we are playing the top seven teams of the world. But I am excited and eagerly waiting to play in front of my home crowd," Lakra said.

He added, "People are crazy about Hockey in Odisha and the support we enjoy in Bhubaneswar always makes this a special venue for the Indian Team."

Lakra last played for India during the Australian Tour in December last year.

Other than the seasoned player, Odisha lads Amit Rohidas and Dipsan Tirkey have also been named in the 18-member squad.

While Rohidas had an impressive Coal India Hockey India League this year that propelled his selection into the Senior Core Group, Tirkey is a Junior World Cup hero who has made a smooth transition into the senior team.

"This is the first time we will be playing for the Indian Team in front of our home crowd in Odisha," expressed 19-year-old Tirkey.

"We have played plenty of HIL matches at the Kalinga Stadium, but of course this is a different platform and we want to do well," added defender and dragflicker Rohidas, who was impressive in the Hero Asia Cup campaign.

Tirkey asserted that everyone in the team was aware of the individual duties and would look to execute the team strategies without letting pressure affecting them.

Playing top teams like Australia, Germany and England in the group stage will need nerves of steel but Rohidas, who has 35 international caps and Tirkey with 12 international caps, are prepared for the challenge.

The two will play alongside Lakra in the backline who has remained a constant support is comforting for them.

The Indian Team will arrive at the Biju Patnaik International Airport, Bhubaneswar on Wednesday and will open their campaign against defending champions Australia on December 1. (ANI)