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Halappa still can't believe he is Indian hockey captain
Arjun Halappa
Arjun Halappa of India before the start of Hockey World Cup match against England at the Major Dhyanchand National Stadium in New Delhi. (TOI Photo)
NEW DELHI: Arjun Halappa still cannot believe that he has been apointed captain of the Indian hockey team but as he prepares himself for the pressure cooker job, the veteran mid-fielder feels that a skipper should always lead by example.

Halappa has been a veteran of Indian hockey, having served the national team for nearly a decade. However, it is the first time he will be leading the national team after he was named captain for next month's Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh, Malaysia.

"I never thought in my wildest dream that I would become captain of the national team. My father (BK Halappa) used to play hockey but I started playing the game to get a decent job as the financial condition of my family was not good. It was a dream to play for India and today I am the captain. It's unbelievable," the mid-fielder from Coorg told PTI Bhasha.

"A captain should lead by example. He should be a good human being and always keep his cool under pressure. A captain should never get carried away by emotions," Halappa said.

Halappa said as he goes about his job in the Azlan Shah Cup, he would draw inspiration from Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Rahul Dravid besides former hockey skipper Dhanraj Pillay.

"Rahul and Dhoni, definitely, are huge source of inspiration. Dhoni has done wonders as a captain and Rahul is a proven performer. I also take inspiration from Dhanraj Pillay, who is one of the best captain Indian hockey has ever produced," said the senior playmaker.

Halappa said that Indian cricket team's World Cup-winning feat is an inspiration for the all sportsperson of the country, irrespective of their disciplines.

"We all followed the World Cup as India was doing exceptionally well. The World Cup win is an inspiration for all Indian athletes," he said.

Known for keeping his cool on the turf, Halappa said taking unnecessary pressure is not his style of playing.

"I don't take pressure unnecessarily. I always believe in what I do," said the Olympian, who was a member of India's silver medal-winning Delhi Commonwealth Games team.

Despite going into the Azlan Shah Cup with a relatively young and inexperienced side, Halappa is confident of a good showing in the May 5-15 event, which India won jointly along with South Korea last year after the final was washed out.

"Last year also we had some new faces in the team but we won the title. I am confident of good show this time as well," he insisted.

In Azlan Shan Cup, India will be without the services of some key players, like drag-flicker Sandeep Singh, Sardara Singh former captain Rajpal Singh and Tushar Khandekar.

While Sandeep and Sardara are busy playing in the Belgium League, Rajpal and Khandekar are unfit.

Halappa, however, said that the senior players will be back in the team before the Olympic qualifiers next year.

"We have 8 month to get prepared for the qualifiers. If we play to out potential, there is no reason why we can't qualify for the London Olympic," he said.
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