Top 5 Indian hockey players of 2016

Rani Rampal plays a key role in India’s forward line

2016 has been a year of mixed fortunes for Hockey India. While, some great victories were notched, the national team failed to leave a mark at the all-important Rio Olympics. Nonetheless, the men’s senior team finished second at the Sultan Azlan Shah tournament in Malaysia, were runners-up at the Champions trophy held in London, and subsequently crowned the champions at the Asian Champions trophy.

As for the women, akin to their male counterparts, they emerged victorious at the Asian Champions Trophy after trouncing China in the final.

However, the landmark victory of the year came just last Sunday, when the Indian colts showcased their prowess to win the Junior Hockey World Cup in Lucknow after a hiatus of 15 years.

During, the entire course of 2016, there were many players who shined on the field, Sportskeeda looks at the best 5 Indian hockey players from the past year:

#5 Rani Rampal

The 22-year old player from Haryana leads the attack for the Indian eves in the capacity of a lethal striker. At the tender age of 15, she was the youngest player in the national team which participated in the 2010 World Cup and has been impressive ever since.

Having come a long way from then, she forms an integral part of the women’s team today and played an instrumental role in the forward line when the eves won the Asian Champions Trophy, defeating the Chinese in the final encounter and subsequently in the away series against Australia in November.

Having earned three nominations for the annual FIH Best Young Woman Player, Rani has been at the fulcrum of the Indian’s women’s success in the recent years.

#4 Harmanpreet Singh

Team-mates celebrate with Harmanpreet after he scored a goal at the 2016 Junior Hockey World Cup

From driving tractors to becoming one of the leading drag-flickers of the Indian hockey team, young gun Harmanpreet Singh has surely tread a long journey. 2016 has been all but a spectacular year for the 20-year old, who has also been nominated for the FIH Rising Star of the Year 2016.

Such were his performances for the junior side, that he earned a call-up to the senior squad under coach Roelant Oltmans for the Sultan Azlan Shah and the Champions Trophy in London. Harmanpreet has brought different skills to game, and has the ability to function in defence and also move forward.

A lot of his success and progress to the senior level has been his ability to score off penalty corners. He played a key role when the Indian team won the 4-nation Invitational tournament in Spain last month, and then came his stunning display of skills at the Junior Hockey World Cup where India emerged as champions. Harmanpreet scored three goals in the tournament, but he was responsible for being a wall in India’s defensive unit with his consistent performances.

#3 Deepika Thakur

Deepika Thakur in action against Australian players on the hockey field

Amongst the oldest and most capped member of the Indian women’s hockey team, Deepika started off the year on a high note in March when she won the Dhruv Batra Player of the Year award, recognising her as one of the most successful and inspiring hockey players.

At the Asian Champions Trophy in Malaysia the India women won it for the first time and Thakur had an important role in the team’s success, and was also the highest scorer of the tournament. In the final clash against China, she scored in the dying moments to help India win the title 2-1.

Then in the away series against Australia, Deepika was adjudged the Player of the Tournament for her stellar performance in the series. Such is her dedication towards the sport of hockey that she put her marriage plans on hold as the women’s team qualified for the Rio Olympics, speaking volumes of her character.

#2 Rupinder Pal Singh

India’s best drag-flicker and rampant goal-scorer, Rupinder Pal Singh

Rupinder Pal Singh can easily be termed as one of the best drag-flick specialists in the world and also India’s serial goal-scorer for he never misses an opportunity to perform on the field.

The top-scorer for Delhi Waveriders at the 2016 Hockey India League, Rupinder played a significant role when India finished as runners-up at the Sultan Azlan Shah tournament and the Champions Trophy in London. However, the 26-year old really came into his own at the Asian Champions Trophy, when he netted 11 goals in the tournament including an important goal in the finals to defeat Pakistan 3-2 and clinch the gold.

#1 PR Sreejesh

PR Sreejesh was felicitated with the Dhruv Batra award in March

India’s guardian in front of the goal, PR Sreejesh is the glue that holds the Indian hockey team together. He replaced Sardar Singh as the captain of the team, and has been nominated for FIH Goalkeeper of the Year award for his exploits on the field.

Despite being ruled out of the Asian Champions Trophy final and subsequently for the Australia tour owing to injury, Sreejesh impressed hockey experts and fans alike with his performances before that, especially with the podium finishes at the Sultan Azlan Shah and the Champions trophy in London.

The icing on the cake, came forth when he achieved a remarkable feat with the Junior Hockey Team which won the World Cup as he was a part of the support staff in his first coaching stint as the guru for the young goalkeepers.

Quick Links

App download animated image Get the free App now