Dragflicker Dhananjay Mahadik feels short corners will be India's strong point in the forthcoming hockey World Cup starting Sunday and Sandeep Singh will be their trump card.
Mahadik said under chief coach Jose Brasa India has improved a lot when it comes to penalty corner conversion and with three dragflickers present in the Indian squad, the home team will be in an advantageous position.
"The presence of three dragflickers in the team is a big advantage for us because whenever we will earn a penalty corner, the opponents will be a puzzled as to who is going to take the strike. World over penalty corner conversion rate is 33 per cent but Sandeep's conversion rate alone is 50 to 60 per cent," he said.
"Brasa helped us a lot in fine-tuning our dragflicking skills. He taught us how to flick with different balls, which he got from Spain. He started with heavier balls (200 gm) to improve our strength, and then we practised with 100 gm balls for speed. By doing so we worked on our accuracy rate by leaps and bounds," Mahadik added.
Apart from Sandeep and Mahadik, young gun Diwakar Ram is the other penalty corner specialists in the 18-member Indian squad for the 12-team event to be held from February 28 to March 13.
Asked about his idol, Mahadik said, "I honed my skills under Jorge Lombi, so you can say he is my idol. I met him once with Brasa. He too was a student of Brasa and has a unique way of flicking."
Interestingly, the 26-year-old Mumbai lad started his career as midfielder but later transformed into a defender realising his abilities at the back.
"I always had a passing instinct, so I was asked to play in the defence instead of mid-field," Mahadik said.