Deepak Niwas Hooda was named the captain of the 12-member Indian men’s kabaddi team for the South Asian Games to be held in Nepal next month. The women’s team also saw a new captain in place as Haryana’s Priyanka took the reigns from Payel Chowdhury, the Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India announced on Tuesday.

There were wholesale changes in both squads from the Asian Games teams with ten new names in the men’s squad from last time out. The women’s team also has seven new faces in their team from Jakarta.

Pawan Sehrawat, Naveen Kumar, Vikas Khandola, Vishal Bhardwaj, Nitesh Kumar, Sunil Kumar, Parvesh Bhainswal were among the top performers in Pro Kabaddi League who were selected to the Indian team for the first time. Surender Nada whose exclusion from the Asian Games squad caused a stir, has returned to the national team.

Meanwhile Sehrawat, who was the top-scoring raider in the recently-concluded Pro Kabaddi season, has been appointed as Deepak Niwas Hooda’s deputy for the upcoming tournament.

The men’s team is a lot more balanced compared to the Asian Games squad with coaches Balwan Singh and Ashan Kumar picking six defenders in the side compared to just four in Jakarta. The lack of specialist defenders was cited one of the major reasons for India’s failure to win the gold medal.

As far as captaincy is concerned, Hooda is an obvious choice considering he is one of the most experienced players in the squad. Even though he will lead the national team for the first time, he has had the experience of captaining both Rajasthan side and Jaipur Pink Panthers recently. Pardeep Narwal is the other experienced head in the squad having played four major international tournaments already.

In the women’s squad, new coaches Sunil Dabas and Banani Saha have retained the core of the experienced players that led India to a silver medal in Jakarta with Ritu Negi, Chowdhury, Sonali Shingate and Sakshi Kumari all being part of the team. The management, however, appears to develop a new leadership for the side by handing the vice-captaincy to Maharashtra’s Deepika Henry.

The women’s team is hoping to win their second gold medal in the South Asian Games after their triumph in 2010, the last event that last staged women’s kabaddi.

The men, on the other hand, would be eyeing their tenth gold medal after last winning it in 2016. The 2019 edition will be held at Kathmandu from December 1-10.


Men’s: Deepak Niwas Hooda (c), Pawan Sehrawat (vc), Nitesh Kumar, Vishal Bhardwaj, Sunil Kumar, Parvesh Bhainswal, Naveen Kumar, Pardeep Narwal, Amit Hooda, Surender Nada, Vikash Kandola, and Darshan Kadian

Women’s: Priyanka (c), Deepika Henry Joseph (vc), Ritu Kumari, Nisha, Pushpa, Sakshi Kumari, Payel Chowdhary, Ritu Negi, Sonali Vishnu Shingate, Snehal Pardeep Shinde, Mamta Kumari Dhaka, and Harwinder Kaur