Hockey India on Saturday named an 18-member Indian women’s team for the Olympic Qualifiers. India will be looking to secure a top-three finish in the tournament, which will be held in Ranchi from January 13 to 19, and qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

India have been placed in Pool B along with New Zealand, Italy and the United States. Meanwhile, Germany, Japan, Chile, and the Czech Republic will battle it out in Pool A. India will open their campaign against the United States on the January 13, followed by a match against New Zealand on the January 14 and they will go up against Italy in the last Pool B match on the January 16.

India will be led in Ranchi by goalkeeper Savita Punia, who recently won her third consecutive FIH Goalkeeper of the Year Award. Veteran forward Vandana Katariya will serve as Punia’s deputy.

Apart from Punia, India have named Bichu Devi Kharibam as the goalkeeper. Veteran defenders Deep Grace Ekka and Gurjit Kaur haven’t found a place in the squad with India naming just four defenders in Nikki Pradhan, Udita, Ishika Chaudhary and Monika.

Nisha, Vaishnavi Vitthal Phalke, Neha, Navneet Kaur, Salima Tete, Sonika, Jyoti and Beauty Dungdung will feature in the midfield while Lalremsiami, Sangita Kumari, Deepika and Katariya will lead the line as forwards.

Speaking on the team selection, Chief Coach Janneke Schopman said, “The Olympic Qualifiers is an important tournament on our Paris 2024 Olympics journey. It is imperative that we live up to expectations and all the players in the squad are working to secure qualification.

“After careful consideration, we have chosen a well-balanced team with immense skill and experience in all departments. Also, Savita and Vandana have faced high-pressure situations numerous times in their career so far, they are well equipped to guide the rest of the team as the captain and vice captain.”

Indian squad 

Goalkeepers: Savita (C), Bichu Devi Kharibam 

Defenders: Nikki Pradhan, Udita, Ishika Chaudhary, Monika 

Midfielders: Nisha, Vaishnavi Vitthal Phalke, Neha, Navneet Kaur, Salima Tete, Sonika, Jyoti, Beauty Dungdung

Forwards: Lalremsiami, Sangita Kumari, Deepika, Vandana Katariya