Manpreet Singh is back to lead the Indian men’s national hockey team as the governing body announced a strong 18-member squad for the Commonwealth Games scheduled to begin from 29th July in Birmingham.

India are grouped in Pool B along with England, Canada, Wales and Ghana, and will begin their campaign on 31st July against Ghana.

The team will be captained by Manpreet, who led the Indian team to a historic bronze medal at the Olympic Games in Tokyo last year. Manpreet had been relieved of captaincy duties temporarily though he featured regularly in the midfield during the recent FIH Pro League matches as India tried to widen the leadership pool with Amit Rohidas leading the team.

Speaking to recently, coach Graham Reid had said regarding the captaincy rotation that a change was imminent. “We’ll probably see a change again in the Commonwealth Games,” he had said. “The idea is really just to share it around, and I certainly have spoken to Manpreet (Singh) about it. The timing was pretty good for him as well – he had a child and these sort of things can change your view on life a little bit. So I think it’s been a good opportunity for all of us, because it’s good to have different voices. It’s like having an assistant coach, it’s good to have a different voice at halftime or at quarter time or whatever.”

Dragflick specialist Harmanpreet Singh, the leading goal scorer of the FIH Hockey Pro League as things stand, has been named as the vice captain of the team.

The squad includes the experienced goalkeeper PR Sreejesh and Krishan B Pathak, who returns to the team after a brief injury break. Defenders include Varun Kumar, Surender Kumar, Harmanpreet Singh, Amit Rohidas, Jugraj Singh and Jarmanpreet Singh. The midfield includes the experience of Manpreet alongside Hardik Singh, Vivek Sagar Prasad, Shamsher Singh, Akashdeep Singh and Nilakanta Sharma. The forwards named are Mandeep Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Gurjant Singh and Abhishek, who will lead the charge in attack.

In their previous outing at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, India suffered disappointment, finishing fourth. However, after an impressive outing in the FIH Pro League this year, the Indian team is poised to achieve success in Birmingham.

Speaking about the team selection, Reid said, “We have gone with a tried-and-tested team for the Commonwealth Games. These players have the experience of playing top teams in high pressure games in the FIH Pro League which was a good exposure for us ahead of the prestigious quadrennial event.

“After a brief break when we return home from the Netherlands, we will resume camp in SAI, Bengaluru where we will analyse our performance against Belgium and Netherlands. While there are many takeaways from this outing in Pro League, there surely are a few areas that we can improve upon ahead of the Commonwealth Games,” the Australian added.

Indian men’s hockey team for CWG:

GOALKEPERS: PR Sreejesh, Krishan Bahadur Pathak

DEFENDERS: Varun Kumar, Surender Kumar, Harmanpreet Singh (VC), Amit Rohidas, Jugraj Singh, Jarmanpreet Singh

MIDFIELDERS: Manpreet Singh (C), Hardik Singh, Vivek Sagar Prasad, Shamsher Singh, Akashdeep Singh, Nilakanta Sharma

FORWARDS: Mandeep Singh, Gurjant Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Abhishek

Image via Hockey India