India’s senior men’s hockey team begins preparations for Hockey World League semifinals
India’s senior men’s hockey team has kickstarted preparations for the forthcoming FIH Hockey World League semifinals to be held at Rotterdam, Netherlands from June 13 to 23.
The 34 probables for the marquee event hit the training drills at the Netaji Subhas Southern Centre (NSSC) in Bengaluru on Saturday.
It may be mentioned here that India had qualified for the Hockey World League semifinals in an impressive fashion, winning all their league matches in the Round 2 tournament held in New Delhi last February.
The 34 probables comprise four goalkeepers, six defenders, eight midfielders and sixteen forwards.
Out-of-favour drag-flicker Sandeep Singh has been called up to the national camp after a long hiatus. Experienced forward Shivendra Singh has also found a place among the probables.
Two new goalkeepers – Sreenivasa Rao Katharu and Nanak Singh were drafted in. In the fullback department, Sampath Kumar Maylaram has given a look-in following a decent showing in the Hockey India League for Mumbai Magicians.
Midfielders Pradeep More and Vivek Dhar have been included – following a good showing in the HIL for Uttar Pradesh Wizards.
The forwardline comprises Sukhdev Singh, who turned out for Jaypee Punjab Warriors in the HIL and Gurmeet Singh along with the seasoned SK Uthappa, who last played in the 34th Champions Trophy in Melbourne, earns a recall to the national camp.
Yuvraj Walmiki also make a comeback to the national fold. Like Uthappa, he also last played for India in Melbourne.
However, the biggest surprise has been the non-inclusion of talented 18-year-old Mandeep Singh. Another youngster, Malak Singh, who scored three goals in the 22nd Sultan Azlan Shah Cup tournament in Ipoh, Malaysia also failed to find a place among the probables.
Young drag-flicker Gurjinder Singh, who played in the Hockey World League Round 2 tournament and was surprisingly used sparingly in the 22nd Sultan Azlan Shah Cup tournament, was overlooked.
Regular captain Sardar Singh, Vokkaliga Raghunath, Birendra Lakra and SV Sunil resumed serious preparations after being given a well-deserved rest for the 22nd Sultan Azlan Shah Cup tournament after having played continuously for the last few months.
The camp runs till April 26.
India would be pitted against the likes of hosts Netherlands, Australia, Spain and New Zealand in the Rotterdam event.
The Probables: Goalkeepers: PR Sreejesh, PT Rao, Sreenivasa Rao Katharu, Nanak Singh. Defenders: VR Raghunath, Sandeep Singh, Rupinder Pal Singh, Harbir Singh, Sandhu, Amit Rohidas, Sampath Kumar Maylaram. Midfielders: Sardar Singh, Kothajit Singh, Birendra Lakra, Manpreet Singh, MB Aiyappa, Pardeep Mor, Gurmail Singh, Vivek Dhar. Forwards: SV Sunil, Gurvinder Singh Chandi, Chinglensana Singh, Shivendra Singh, Danish Mujtaba, SK Uthappa, Pradhan Sommanna, Nithin Thimmaiah, Yuvraj Walmiki, Dharamvir Singh, Akashdeep Singh, MG Poonacha, Prabhdeep Singh, PL Thimmanna, Sukhdev Singh, Gurpreet Singh.