India has done well against top teams in the FIH Hockey Pro League, but Nilakanta emphasised that there is still room for improvement. “Playing well against the Netherlands, Belgium and Australia has certainly given us a lot of confidence in our abilities,” said Nilakanta, who has played over 50 matches for the national side.
“However, we have identified a few areas that we need to fine-tune in the upcoming months. Sometimes, small changes make a big difference to the way a team performs and we are looking to make those tweaks to our game. If we fine-tune our game properly, we will certainly be a much better unit at the Olympics,” he added.
Asked about his game, Nilakanta said: “This is a tricky period for us. We have to be very careful. We should neither push too hard nor take it too easy. Personally, I am happy with the way I am moving forward with my game every day. We are taking small steps at the moment. There is still a lot of time to go for the Olympics.” The 25-year-old said that the rapport between the players has improved as the team has spent so much time together at the SAI campus in Bengaluru in the past few months. “In sport, it is not only about having a great understanding on the pitch but also about sharing relationships with the players off it. Only then, there will be a huge impact,” he said.
“We have become a much closer unit in the last few months. This could have a major impact on our co-ordination on the pitch,” he added.