Bhubaneswar: Shilanand Lakra couldn’t have asked for a better preparation before the national camp for men’s hockey World Cup scheduled in the city from Friday as the Odisha lad scored a brace in his team’s 5-1 thrashing of New South Wales in the first of the two exhibition matches at the Kalinga Stadium here, Thursday.
Amit Rohidas, Manip Kerketta and Prasan Tirkey scored the other goals for Odisha, while Jack Pickering scored the lone goal for the visitors. A few other members of the ensuing national camp were also in the stands along with India coach Harendra Singh.
The match was a part of the buildup for the sport’s biggest extravaganza to be hosted in the city from November 28.
Former India hockey icons Dhanraj Pillay and Dilip Tirkey, who are in the city in connection with the Ekamra Sports Literature Festival, were also in the stands along with two-time Canadian Olympic medallist Ben Johnson.
Speaking about his performance, Lakra later told the media, “It is obviously a good feeling when you score and help your team win. It’s a great initiative by the state government because such matches help us to learn many things.”
Lakra, however, tried to duck when he was asked whether his performance Thursday put him a step ahead in the national camp. “I leave it to the coach to decide. My duty is to score goals and help the team win,” the Rourkela-born youngster added.