It was a day before India’s final group stage match of the 2018 Hockey World Cup in Bhubaneswar. A direct place in the quarterfinals was at stake following a draw against Belgium and skipper Manpreet Singh was running a high fever. 

Head coach Harendra Singh had a worried look on his face as he searched for his captain in the Kalinga Stadium complex. He finally found him in the players’ dining area and inquired concerning his health. Manpreet smiled at his coach and replied “Kal toh zaroor khelunga. Ye toh kuch nahi hai.” (I will definitely play tomorrow. This is nothing.)

The coach’s trepidation vanished when Manpreet sent a pass fizzing across the goalline in the opening minutes of the match. He pulled the strings in the centre, broke opponent attacks as India routed Canada 5-1 to reach the quarters.

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