Veteran SV Sunil was the biggest omission while Odisha’s experienced defender Birendra Lakra made a timely return to the India squad for the Hockey World Cup, beginning on November 28 at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar.
Sunil picked up a knee injury ahead of the Asian Champions Trophy that ruled him out of the tournament. It’s likely that he, who has over 200 international caps, couldn’t recover fully to be a part of the World Cup squad.
However, Lakra would return to the team after missing out the Asian Champions Trophy in Muscat last month due to an injury-break.
The team will be led by Manpreet Singh while Chinglensana Singh Kangujam will be his deputy. PR Sreejesh and Krishan Bahadur Pathak are the two goalkeepers in the squad.
Lakra will be joined by Amit Rohidas, Surender Kumar, Kothajit Singh and 2016 Junior World Cup winners Harmanpreet Singh, Varun Kumar to form India’s defence.
Manpreet Singh and Chinglensana will add to the experience in the center along with young guns Sumit, Nilakanta Sharma also of the Junior World Cup team and Hardik Singh, who made his International debut last month.
The forward line will see the experienced Akashdeep Singh, Dilpreet Singh, Lalit Upadhyay and Junior World Cup winners Mandeep Singh and Simranjeet Singh.
India is grouped in Pool C along with World No.3 Belgium, Canada and South Africa. The top team in each group will directly qualify for the quarterfinals while the next two will have to play cross-over matches to make it to the top 8.
“We have chosen the best available combinations for the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018. We had to make some tough decisions to select 18 out of a very strong pool of 34 players,” said coach Harendra Singh.
“The final 18 are a mix of experienced and youth and have been selected on the basis of their current form and fitness. These players have consistently shown their potential in the lead up to the showpiece event and I am confident India will put up a fighting performance.”
The core group of 34 will continue to train in Bhubaneswar till 23 November 2018 after which the team will finalise its preparations for the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018.
India will begin their campaign against South Africa.
Goalkeepers: P R Sreejesh, Krishan Bahadur Pathak
Defenders: Harmanpreet Singh, Birendra Lakra, Varun Kumar, Kothajit Singh Khadangbam, Surender Kumar and Amit Rohidas
Midfielders: Manpreet Singh (Captain), Chinglensana Singh Kangujam (Vice-Captain), Nilakanta Sharma, Hardik Singh and Sumit
Forwards: Akashdeep Singh, Mandeep Singh, Dilpreet Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay and Simranjeet Singh