India on their guard for six-match tour of New Zealand, which begins in Auckland tomorrow
- The Indian men's hockey team will not let their guard down for the 6 match tour of New Zealand that begins tomorrow.
The first match of the Indian men’s national hockey team’s New Zealand tour will commence tomorrow, the 2nd of October in Auckland. The first two matches of the six-match series will be against the New Zealand ‘A’ team, but India will look to start off on the right foot and not take them lightly. The remaining four matches will be against the national team.
After emerging as champions after last year’s Asian Games in Incheon, India kept up their fine form on a successful tour of Europe, defeating France and Spain. The men in blue have worked hard on their corner passes and penalty conversions, and the Indian custodians went through a three-week training camp with former South African national Dave Staniforth.
Roelant Oltmans, high performance director and chief coach of the Indian team had the following to say about the team’s preparation, “Every day and every game is new. We have started benchmarking ourselves and we will ensure that we go a notch higher with each game. This is important, keeping the upcoming tournaments in mind. Not every day do we have the opportunity to play big tournaments and to be in contention we have to start challenging ourselves and be our own competition.”
“The boys are not going to take tomorrow's match lightly as it will set the tone for the upcoming matches. The team is looking good and ready to accept the Kiwi challenge”, he added. (Quotes courtesy of NDTV)
Talented Punjab midfielder Manpreet Singh makes a return to the squad, post an injury, and his presence will be important. He is considered a crucial link between the defense and the forwards.
The Indian defensive line will consist of Birendra Lakra, Kothajit Singh and penalty corner specialists Rupinder Pal Singh and V.R. Raghunath. Self-possessed goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh will hope to exhibit his newly acquired skills under the bar.
Captain and midfielder Sardar Singh had the following to say on the importance of the series: “It is very important to start a tour on a winning note as it gives you confidence for the rest of the matches. The team is working on the grey patches before the Hockey World League (HWL) Finals, so playing against New Zealand is surely going to help us in our preparations.”
The Indian squad is:
Goalkeepers: P.R. Sreejesh (vice-captain), Harjot Singh.
Defenders: Birendra Lakra, Kothajit Singh, V.R. Raghunath, Jasjit Singh Kular, Rupinder Pal Singh, Gurjinder Singh.
Midfielders: Sardar Singh (captain), Chinglensana Singh, S.K. Uthappa, Satbir Singh, Devinder Walmiki, Manpreet Singh, Dharamvir Singh.
Forwards: S.V. Sunil, Ramandeep Singh, Akashdeep Singh, Mandeep Singh, Lalit Upadhyay, Nikkin Thimmaiah.