Birendra Lakra file photo by Hockey India.
New Delhi, 20 Jan 2018: Thirteen days before he turns 28, Birendra Lakra, the genial giant form Jharkhand, achieved an important milestone in his illustrious career for India. The London Olympian reached the milestone today in New Zealand.
The Indian team’s final round-robin match against hosts New Zealand in the first leg of the Four-Nations Invitational Tournament at the Blake Park in Tauranga, New Zealand, saw resolute defender Birendra Lakra achieve the milestone of completing 150 International matches for India. The Indian team, that exhibited a structured defence to win 3-1 against the Black Sticks, will next play the Final against Belgium on Sunday.
“Birendra Lakra has for long been a vital cog in the Indian team’s defence and has tasted significant victories since his debut in the Test Series against South Africa in 2012. He was part of the Indian team that won a Gold Medal at the 2014 Asian Games, he also played an important role in India’s Bronze Medal feat in the World League Final in Raipur in 2015. He has a Silver Medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games to his credit and has also featured in India’s Bronze Medal outing at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in 2012,” said a Hockey India press release.
Lakra, who plays for Bharat Petroleum in the domestic tournaments, was first included in the junior team for the Singapore tour in 2007, achieved the pinnacle of his career when he made it to the Indian team for Olympics, he played his only Olympics at the London Olympic Games in 2012.
However, an ACL injury in early 2016 ruled him out of the Olympic Games to be held later that year. A fighter, Lakra, made a strong comeback into the Indian team after over eight-months-long injury layoff during Indian team’s victorious 2016 Asian Champions Trophy outing where they beat Pakistan in the Final. He also featured in India’s tour of Australia later that year but missed significant tournaments in 2017. However, he was called up again for national duty for the Odisha Men’s Hockey World League Final Bhubaneswar 2017 where he enthralled his home crowd with a good show in India’s backline. The Indian team ended their campaign in Odisha with a Bronze Medal.
Congratulating Lakra, Mohd. Mushtaque Ahmad, Secretary General, Hockey India said, “Completing 150 matches is a big feat and I congratulate Birendra Lakra for his efforts. He is a very composed and determined player who has been vital in the Indian team’s defence over the last couple of years. Despite testing times during his injury period, Lakra has remained resolute and has earnestly worked on his comeback. I wish him the very best for the Final in the Four Nations Tournament and also wish him success in this crucial year where India plays top tournaments.”