Sardar Singh Dropped From HWL Final Squad, Sreejesh Unfit to Play
Rupinder Pal Singh and Birendra Lakra will be making a comeback in the HWL Final, starting 1 December.
Veteran mid-fielder Sardar Singh was, on 17 November, dropped from India's 18-member squad for next month's Hockey World League Final. Fit-again Rupinder Pal Singh and Birendra Lakra have made comebacks for the season-ending tournament to be held in Bhubaneswar, starting 1 December.
Manpreet Singh has been retained as the captain of the 18-member squad, while naming Chinglensana Singh as his deputy.
Sardar – who was awarded the Khel Ratna Award this year – was part of the team that won the Asia Cup last month in Dhaka. The 31-year-old had shunned his playmaker role in the midfield for young skipper Manpreet Singh and played as the 'free defender'.
But his omission from India’s squad for the HWL Final might mean that Sardar doesn’t quite fit into the scheme of things of new chief coach Sjoerd Marijne – who replaced sacked-coach Roelant Oltmans before the Asia Cup.
I think this is a great mix and would especially like to see how the youngsters soak up the pressure of playing against higher ranked teams in the world. We will have to play every match like it is the final and will have absolutely no room to make errors if we want to see ourselves on the podium.Sjoerd Marijne
Rupinder, Lakra Return; PR Sreejesh Still Not Fit
Rupinder will be returning to the field after a five-month lay-off due to a hamstring injury he got during the Hockey World League Semi-finals in June. Lakra on the other hand has been in and out of the side after missing the Rio Olympics due to a knee injury.
“It is good to have Rupinder, who brings great experience, as well as Birendra back in the team. Both are 100 percent fit and eager to wear the India colours again,” stated 43-year-old Marijne.
With PR Sreejesh yet to regain match fitness, the Indian goalpost will be defended by custodians Akash Chikte and Suraj Karkera.
The midfield will see SK Uthappa, Kothajit Singh and Sumit join Manpreet and Chinglensana.
Junior World Cup stars Harmanpreet Singh, Varun Kumar and Dipsan Tirkey, who have had promising outings in Europe and Asia Cup too, find themselves in the squad for the season finale.
In one of the best comeback stories of the year, Odisha-lad Amit Rohidas, who had a fantastic outing in 2017 Hockey India League, made his return to the team.
"Amit was called-in as a replacement for Kothajit who had a hamstring injury just before we left for the Asia Cup. He flew in directly from Australia where he had played the Australian Hockey League for India 'A' team and he grabbed the opportunity with both hands," said coach Marijne.
The team boasts of a strong forwardline in experienced SV Sunil, Akashdeep Singh, Gurjant Singh, who had a promising Asia Cup, Lalit Upadhyay and 22-year-old Mandeep Singh, who also returned after being rested from the Asia Cup.
India are grouped with Australia, England and Germany in Pool B and will begin their campaign on the opening day against defending champions Australia.
Rupinder's return will add sheen to India's already potent drag-flick division, which also has the likes of Harmanpreet Singh, Varun Kumar, Amit and Dipsan Tirkey.
"We have five players in defence who can drag and have been putting in extra hours for penalty corner training which is great for the team," Marijne said.
Goalkeepers: Akash Anil Chikte, Suraj Karkera
Defenders: Harmanpreet Singh, Amit Rohidas, Dipsan Tirkey, Varun Kumar, Rupinder Pal Singh, Birendra Lakra
Midfielders: Manpreet Singh (Capt), Chinglensana Singh (Vice-Capt), SK Uthappa, Sumit, Kothajit Singh
Forwards: SV Sunil, Akashdeep Singh, Mandeep Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Gurjant Singh
(With inputs from PTI)
(Breathe In, Breathe Out: Are you finding it tough to breathe polluted air? Join hands with FIT in partnership with #MyRightToBreathe to find a solution to pollution. Send in your suggestions to email@example.com or WhatsApp @ +919999008335)
Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.