Commonwealth Games 2014: Indian hockey eves face Canada in tournament opener
July 23, 2014: The Ritu Rani-led Indian women’s hockey team will take on Canada in their opening Pool A match of the Commonwealth Games at the Glasgow National Hockey Center in Glasgow on Thursday.
No complacency please
While the 13th-ranked Indian team should theoretically not encounter serious resistance from the 22nd-ranked Canadians, they would well-advised to not let any complacency creep into their system just because they are up against a lower-ranked outfit.
The Blueskirts’ fortunes would revolve around the vastly experienced midfielder and skipper Ritu Rani and talented forward Rani Rampal (both of whom were part of the side that finished fifth in the 2010 New Delhi Commonwealth Games).
Enterprising strike force
The Indian forward line wears an enterprising look with the likes of Poonam Rani, Vandana Katariya and Anupa Barla more than capable of rising to the occasion and playing second fiddle to Rampal.
Captain Ritu will look to lend solidity to the midfield alongside Sushila Chanu, Navjot Kaur and Lilima Minz, while the likes of vice-captain Deep Grace Ekka, Namita Toppo and Kirandeep Kaur will bid to blunt the opposition raids.
Head-to-head: Glory at Manchester
India have faced Canada only once in Commonwealth Games, having beaten them 1-0 in the 2002 edition in Manchester. Indian eves will face New Zealand, South Africa and Trinidad and Tobago in their other league games.
It may be worth recalling that the Indian eves had scripted history when they won the gold medal at the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games, beating England 3-2 in extra time in front of their home fans.
Indian women had finished fourth at the 1998 Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games, where hockey was introduced for the first time, and had bagged the silver medal at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games, losing to Australia by a solitary goal in the final showdown.
The Indians have warmed up nicely for the Commonwealth Games, whitewashing Malaysia 6-0 in a six-Test series in Kuala Lumpur last month.
Goalkeeper: Savita; Defenders: Deep Grace Ekka, Deepika (vice-captain), Kirandeep Kaur, Namita Toppo, Jaspreet Kaur; Midfielders: Ritu Rani (captain), Sushila Chanu, Lilima Minz, Vandana Katariya, Navjot Kaur; Forwards: Rani, Poonam Rani, Ritusha Arya, Anupa Barla and Anuradha Devi.