India might have to play Australia in a hockey series down under without their talismanic captain PR Sreejesh, who is not sure if he will recover in time from injury. Sreejesh missed the final of the Asian Champions Trophy with a hamstring problem.
Now, that hamstring injury could rule the goalkeeper out of the Test series in Bendigo, with the tour set to begin on November 23.
Speaking to PTI at the Bengaluru airport after arriving from Malaysia, Sreejesh did not sound too confident about his chances of playing against Australia later this month.
"I am not sure, but I will try to make it into the team," Sreejesh said. "Injury is a part of game, but I will definitely look after this and will do check-up with the doctors (to try and be fit in time)."
If Sreejesh fails to make it, it will be a big blow to India, because the national team's captain has been one of the best goalkeepers in the world over the past couple of years. He has also been inspirational as a skipper, leading by example with his performances on the field.
While India beat Pakistan in the Asian Champions Trophy final with goalkeeper Akash Chikte, India just look a more assured and safer side at the back with Sreejesh in goal. And considering how strong a team Australia are, India will certainly need a full-strength team to top one of the hockey powerhouses.
Sreejesh, however, has always been a team man, something that was evident in the ACT final as well, with the goalkeeper proud to see his team top Pakistan, despite having to watch on from the bench.
"India won and that's most important," Sreejesh told TOI. "It is irrelevant whether I played or not. Obviously, I wanted to play but doctors advised me not to aggravate my injury.
"It's a proud moment for me as it is my first title as captain."