Savita Punia has been named the skipper of an 18-member Indian women's hockey squad for the upcoming Women's Asian Champions Trophy.
The marquee hockey tournament will be held at the Donghae City Sunrise Stadium in Donghae, South Korea, from December 5 to December 12.
India begin their campaign on December 5 and will battle it out for the top honors against China, Korea, Japan, Thailand and Malaysia in the single-pool tournament.
Experienced defender Deep Grace Ekka has been named Savita Punia's deputy. The team includes goalkeeper Rajani Etimarpu, defenders Udita, Nikki Pradhan and Gurjit Kaur, who were all part of the Tokyo Olympic squad.
The midfielders are Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam, Nisha, Monika, Neha, Jyoti Namita Toppo and Lilima Minz. The forward line will see two-time Olympian Vandana Katariya lead the charge with Navneet Kaur, Rajwinder Kaur, Mariana Kujur and Sonika.
Navjot Kaur and youngster Suman Devi Thoudam have been chosen as alternate players (AP) and they will be permitted to play only if there is an injury or someone in the 18-member squad is ruled out of the tournament due to COVID-19.
Indian hockey team has a mix of experience and youth
Speaking about the team's composition, Indian women's hockey team's chief coach Janneke Schopman said the team is looking good. Schopman added that the Champions Trophy is a good opportunity for youngsters in the team to show their prowess. She added:
"Despite injuries and some senior players joining the junior team for the junior World Cup, I feel we have selected a good team for the Asian Champions Trophy. This tournament will be a good opportunity for some young players to get a taste of the highest international level and I’m excited to see if we can implement our training themes consistently."
The chief coach said the Indian women's hockey team, led by Savita Punia, is looking to play consistently at a high pace.
"I’m sure that expectations are high after our success at the Tokyo Olympics but we all start at zero again. I am confident that we can show our abilities and will be looking for our team to play consistently at a high pace."
The Indian women's hockey team will play their first match against Thailand on December 5 and will meet Malaysia the next day. The Indian hockey team will then lock horns with hosts and defending champions Korea in their third match on December 8. They play China on December 9 and Japan on December 11.
The final of the Asian Champions Trophy will be played on December 12 between the top-two teams.
In the previous edition held in 2018, the Indian women's hockey team finished runners-up behind Korea.