Analyzing if Team India is good enough to win the 2023 Hockey World Cup 

HWC 2023 Indian Hockey Team at Rourkela (Image - Hockey India)
HWC 2023 Indian Hockey Team at Rourkela (Image - Hockey India)

December 13, 2018, the day when India lost to the Netherlands in the 2018 Hockey World Cup at Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar. The same venue, along with Rourkela's Birsa Munda Stadium, will play host to the 2023 HWC starting in a few days' time.

The 18-member Indian team for this 2023 Hockey World Cup was announced earlier this week. We take a look at the team and try to analyze if they are ready for the World Cup that will happen in their own backyard.

The coveted event starts on January 13, 2023, in Bhubaneswar, with the finals scheduled January 29 at the same venue. The 16-team tournament features all the heavyweights in world hockey, with India placed in Pool D alongside England, Wales, and Spain.

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India will be looking to end their 47-year-old wait to win a World Cup, with their one and only win being in the 1975 Hockey World Cup held in Malaysia.

The team looks set with 13 of the 18 players included in the team who represented India at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Let's take a look at all 18 players who would be willing to give their 100% to win the World Cup in their backyard.


It comes as no surprise in the selection of this duo as former Indian captain PR Sreejesh and his junior Krishan B Pathak get ready for yet another World Cup. Hockey India also recently organized a goalkeeping camp held by reputed goalkeeping coach Dennis Van de Pol to improve the goalkeepers just before the big event.

Assuming that this is the last World Cup for Sreejesh, he would leave no stone unturned to take India to the podium, much like he did at the Tokyo Olympics 18 months back.


The backline looks steady with experienced pros like skipper Harmanpreet Singh and his deputy Amit Rohidas leading it.

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Punjab boy Varun Kumar, who has been in and out of the side for quite some time, has been included in the World Cup squad and will probably add up as the second drag-flicker too.

While the inclusion of Nilam Sanjeep Xess has raised a few eyebrows, the other two defenders Surender Kumar and Jarmanpreet Singh have been extremely handy in the recent past. The only notable omission from the squad is drag-flicker Jugraj Singh, who has been named as a replacement player along with Rajkumar Pal.

If it's not like the 2018 HWC quarter-finals where India mostly lost due to fouls in the last minute and players sitting out because of cards, the Indian defense should be a difficult line for any striker to reach the Indian goalpost.

The five defenders share a total of 646 caps among themselves.


Led by midfield maestro and former Indian captain Manpreet Singh, India's midfield looks solid. With the return of Vivek Sagar Prasad, the only notable name missing is that of versatile midfielder Sumit.

Hardik has been prolific on the flanks, making life easy for the forwards with a regular supply of through balls from the half.

Apart from senior pro Akashdeep, who'll now be seen in a midfield position different from his usual role as a forward, the other five midfielders look settled in their place as they have been playing together since the Tokyo Olympics.

If Hardik and Manpreet are at their usual best, it shouldn't be much of a headache for the forwards to receive balls in their opponents' circles. We all saw their combination in the few FIH Pro League matches that India played in Bhubaneswar.

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The forward line looks a bit inexperienced with both Sukhjeet and Abhishek having made their debuts this year.

Lalit, who will be playing in his third World Cup, is returning from a knee injury and hasn't played competitive hockey for a long time.

The only positive is the most senior member of the forward line, Mandeep Singh, who might complete a century of goals for the senior Indian team (currently at 96 goals) in the upcoming tournament.

Although Abhishek is new to the setup, he has shown immense talent and is a player that Graham Reid trusts. With 10 goals from 24 matches, Abhishek's skills inside the shooting circle are something to look out for. He can trick any defender with ease with his intelligent stickwork.

A lot will depend on Mandeep and Lalit, with them being the senior pros to lead the attack. If the situation persists, Akashdeep and Shamsher can also be shifted to attack.

Will India get any home advantage?

Although India has been playing at the Kalinga Stadium for the last few years, the team will be playing for the first time in front of the Sundargarh crowd - a district that has produced all the Olympians and hockey internationals from Odisha.

The Men in Blue have already reached Rourkela to get acquainted with the newly laid pitch as they get set to face Max Caldas' Spain on January 13 at the Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium in Rourkela.

They then meet England and Wales on January 15 and 19, respectively.

The matches will be live on the Star Sports Network and Disney+Hotstar.

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Edited by Puranjay
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