Manpreet Singh’s composure wins praise from Dhanraj Pillay
With the experience of the 2012 and the 2016 Olympics in the bag, the 27-year-old Manpreet Singh led the men’s side to a successful Olympic qualification campaign last year and also became the first Indian to win the FIH Male Player of the Year award.
However, more than Manpreet Singh’s playing prowess, it is his management skills that have impressed Dhanraj Pillay.
“Manpreet has been doing a very good job as a captain,” the former hockey player told the Times of India. “He is very calm and cool.
“He doesn’t shout at players as he adjusts very well and leaves that part to the senior players like PR Sreejesh and (SV) Sunil,” he added.
Having represented India in 339 matches with 170 international goals to his name in a career that spanned over 15 years, Dhanraj Pillay led India to the 1998 Asian Games title and the 2003 Asia Cup.
Known for his aggressive approach on the field, Dhanraj Pillay’s playing style was fuelled with skill and passion. However, he acknowledges that Manpreet Singh has a different approach.
“I was an aggressive captain, like (cricketer) Virat Kohli, but Manpreet is very composed as you will find him working hard on the field all through the four quarters,” he pointed out.
“He is very agile and confident leading the team from the front while motivating his players,” he added.
PR Sreejesh’s experience a boon
Apart from the captain, Dhanraj Pillay also praised the glovework of custodian PR Sreejesh, who has been like a guardian for the Indian hockey team.
Since making his debut at the 2006 South Asian games, PR Sreejesh has gradually taken over the reins from Adrian D’Souza, Devesh Chauhan, and Jude Menezes among others.
The Kerala shot-stopper has also been witness to the significant improvement in the Indian hockey scene over the past two Olympics, making his experience an invaluable asset.
“At present no Indian goalkeeper can match Sreejesh under the bar,” Dhanraj Pillay said.
“He is the best and we have no one in the ranks who can match his calibre. Having so much experience in his kitty, he is grooming goalkeepers for the future,” he noted.