India hockey captain Sardar Singh on Monday praised the youngsters in the national squad for their performance at the just - concluded Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh.
The India team performed creditably to reach the final where they lost 0 - 4 to reigning world champions Australia. This was the seventh appearance for India in the final of the annual tournament. They have won the title five times.
"This was a good experience for youngsters, who were playing with the senior team for the first time. In particular, Harmanpreet, Surender and Harjeet showed that they are capable of playing at the higher level and fit into the team perfectly, " Sardar said here after returning to the country on Monday.
This year's performance was India's best since 2010, when they won the gold. The men in blue beat Japan, Canada, Pakistan and Malaysia in the group stage before going down to Australia in the final to end up with the silver medal.
Fielding an experimental team, which featured a lot of young, inexperienced faces, the Indians scored 18 goals in the tournament, the second highest by any side in this edition.
"It is a good preparation for Rio. We have identified some of our weaknesses, which a tournament like this highlights, and can now work on them extensively to make sure we can have a strong showing at the Olympics, " the Indian team's high performance director and coach Roelant Oltmans stated.