Comeback King Akashdeep drives India to Hockey World Cup 2023 Knockouts
Two crucial goals from the stick of Akashdeep Singh resulted in India finishing 2nd in the Pool D of the Hockey World Cup 2023.
India defeated a gritty Wales by 4-2 in Bhubaneswar to book their place in the knockout round of the Hockey World Cup 2023.
The driving force behind the win was Akashdeep Singh with two goals, the gritty striker from Punjab who is making a comeback in this World Cup.
The striker first put an inch-perfect shot in the back of the net to give India a 2-0 lead and then gave India a lead of 3-2 with a tomahawk.
India's top scorer in the 2014 World Cup, Akashdeep Singh was not a part of India's bronze medal-winning campaign in Tokyo after his performance levels dipped to alarming levels and he was deployed into a midfield role.
Comeback after Tokyo Olympics
As it is said famously, Champions are down but not out. Akashdeep decided to take matters into his own hands when he was awarded a chance for Commonwealth Games by coach Graham Reid.
He scored three goals in the silver medal-winning CWG campaign of India and was lethal in creating attacks.
In this resurgent role, Akashdeep has added multiple facets to his game. He can now fall back as a midfielder if the situation demands.
Akashdeep was one of the brightest players on the Australia tour just before the world cup. He scored a hat trick against Australia in a 5-4 defeat and finished the tour with 4 goals.
More than his goal-scoring, his sharpness and smartness on the field have been helpful for India.
Always available for the balls and creating impossible angles for the goal are superpowers Akashdeep has. For his first goal against Wales, Akashdeep created a brilliant angle to beat the Welsh goalkeeper who was saving everything.
Gamechanger for India
Akashdeep has always been a big tournament player for India. He scored the most goals for India in the 2014 Hockey World Cup. He was the leader of the attack in the 2016 Rio Olympics, scored 13 goals in Asian Games 2018 and was the best player in the 2018 Asian Champions Trophy.
Talking about the resurgence of Akashdeep, Coach Graham Reid told The Bridge before the hockey world cup, " It was disheartening that he didn't make it to Tokyo but as it happens in our sport, you always have your second chance. It is his time now."
"India has always been full of game-changers, since our playing days. I am happy for the team as Akashdeep is one of our best players. Hats off to him as he was not selected for the Olympics and then he worked on what we asked him to. I am pretty happy to say that we have a number of game-changers and Akashdeep is one of them," Coach explained his comeback to the team for Hockey World Cup.
Akashdeep will be extremely crucial for India going forward in the knockouts. India finished second in Pool D behind England and will New Zealand in the knockouts.