New Delhi: In one of the most significant decisions in recent times, Hockey India named senior goalkeeper PR Sreejesh as the captain of the national team for the Rio Olympics, removing long-time skipper Sardar Singh. Sreejesh, one of the finest custodians in world hockey at the moment, was rewarded after the team, under his leadership, ended up with a silver medal at the blue riband six-nation Champions Trophy hockey tournament in London.
Sreejesh had a good tournament both as a player and captain as India had their best performance in the 38-year-history of the tournament. The team played a brilliant final where they held eventual champions Australia to a goalless draw in the regulation time before losing in a controversial shoot-out.
Playmaker SV Sunil, who is also a key component in the team, has been named vice-captain.Things fell in place for Sreejesh at the right time and went awry for Sardar, who has been going through a torrid time both on and off the field. His performance has dipped on the field as he is no longer as sharp a midfielder as he used to be. Off it, allegations of rape after promising marriage levelled by a British national has also dented his reputation.
Sardar has been the captain of the national team for a number of years having led the team in London 2012. While Sardar was rested for the Champions Trophy where India produced their best-ever show, the team did have a slump when it played the next tournament in Valencia, where they could win only one match against minnows Ireland, losing two games and managing to draw a couple.