Former India skipper Sardar Singh and striker Ramandeep Singh were the notable omissions from Hockey India’s 18-member men’s squad for the Commonwealth Games to be played in Australia.
The 31-year-old Sardar, who led India to fifth-place finish in the recently concluded Sultan Azlan Shah Trophy, has fallen down in the pecking order as coaches feel he has got slower and doesn’t control the midfield with same authority as in the past.
Midfielder Manpreet Singh will lead the side with K Chinglensena Singh will be his deputy, according to the Hockey India release.
Experienced custodian PR Sreejesh and striker SV Sunil also returned to the squad after being given a break for the Azlan Shah trophy while Dilpreet Singh and Vivek Sagar Prasad who made their international debut during the New Zealand tour have been rewarded for their good show.
India has been clubbed with Pakistan, Malaysia, Wales and England in Group B with hockey action scheduled to start from April 7.
“This team has been picked keeping in mind the team’s performance in the previous tournaments since the Asia Cup 2017. We have tried out different combinations in the past events and we believe this will be the most effective combination for the Gold Coast 2018 XXI Commonwealth Games,” said chief coach Sjoerd Marijne.
“This team has been improving with every match and while we could not produce a podium finish at the 27th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup 2018, it will have no influence on how we are going to play in Australia and we will be going there with a mindset to win,” said the 43-year-old Dutch Coach.
India had bagged the silver medal in the last two editions of the Games but skipper Manpreet Singh was confident of turning the tables on Australia this time around. “Our first aim is to do well in the group stage because we have some strong teams in our Pool. It’s extremely crucial to top our table and make the Semis but if we do meet Australia in the knockouts, I believe we will be up for a strong challenge.” the 25-year-old was quoted as saying.
Goalkeepers: PR Sreejesh, Suraj Karkera;
Defenders: Rupinder Pal Singh, Harmanpreet Singh, Varun Kumar, Kothajit Singh, Gurinder Singh, Amit Rohidas;
Midfielders: Manpreet Singh (C), K Chinglensana Singh (VC), Sumit, Vivek Sagar Prasad;
Forwards: Akashdeep Singh, SV Sunil, Gurjant Singh, Mandeep Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Dilpreet Singh