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Players slam Lucknow camp

New Delhi: A section of the Indian hockey team identified the training camp held in a ‘hot and humid’ Lucknow, just prior to the Champions Trophy, as one of the prime reasons behind India’s lacklustre performance in the tournament.

Several players including captain Dhanraj Pillay suffered from fever and dehydration during the camp, which was held in Lucknow from July 20 to August 9.

The team, which went into the tournament as one of the title favourites, lost four of their six matches to return medal-less.

“Though we tried our best to acclimatise to the conditions in Amstelveen going few days before the start of the tournament, it wasn’t of much help since many of the players failed to recover completely,” a senior player said at the airport after the players returned from Holland.

“We also practised hard but the humid conditions took its toll. The camp should not have been held there,” he added.

“We felt very tired after the first match itself in the tournament. We played the matches almost at a stretch, which definitely had an effect on our body,” said another player.

As the team struggled to put up an impressive show in Amstelveen, many former players and experts questioned the rationale behind the selection of Lucknow, instead of Bangalore, as the venue for the camp.

However, the team management was tight-lipped on the entire controversy.

Chief coach Rajinder Singh declined to say anything while physical trainer Sampath Kumar did not comment whether the camp had any adverse effect on the players.

Some other players, including Gagan Ajit Singh, denied that the camp had anything to do with the team’s dismal performance.

Pillay was more forthcoming and said the team will try to rectify the mistakes it committed while preparing for their next campaign — the Asia Cup in Malaysia next month.

“I admit we failed to get penalty corners. Our defence was also not up to the mark and the forward line made several errors. Probably that is why we lost so many matches in the tournament,” Pillay said.

“We will definitely work on these areas in the camp for the Asia Cup,” he said.

Pillay added the performance will not in any way hamper the country’s preparations for the Athens Olympics next year.

“The Olympics is still more than a year away and we have enough time to sort out our weaknesses,” he said. (pti)

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