The Hiroshima leg of the FIH Series Finals gets underway on June 15 with the Indian eves starting out as the firm favorites thanks to some great performances last year as a result of which Rani Rampal and co. are now the ninth-best side in the world.
The Golden Girls have been drawn in Pool A alongside Poland (WR #23), Uruguay (WR #24) and Fiji while Pool B features Asian Games champions Japan (WR #14), Chile (WR #16), Russia (WR #25), and Mexico (WR #29).
The Indian girls have not had a single tournament to prepare for the Hiroshima event, relying instead on a string of tours to Spain, Malaysia, and Korea to get into the groove for the Series Finals - but the results have been encouraging.
A win against World Cup silver medalists Ireland during the Spanish tour was the icing on the cake for the Indians who also did well against the home side which won bronze at London 2018.
Series wins in Malaysia and Korea were achieved by a team which included new faces like Karishma Yadav, Salima Tete, and Jyoti that strengthened the core and added some much-needed depth in the ranks.
Rani Rampal may need to be used sparingly in the pool matches following a return from injury while star drag-flicker Gurjit Kaur will look to strike form well ahead of the business end of the competition.
Back in April 2017, the Uruguayans had forced a 2-2 draw against Sjoerd Marijne's side who went on to prevail in the shootout of the pool match of the Hockey World League Round 2 - but it will be fair to say the Indians are a vastly improved side from the one that took the field at West Vancouver a couple of years ago.
Rani will lead the side with veteran goalkeeper Savita acting as her deputy.
The Indian Team:
Goalkeepers: Savita, Rajani
Defenders: Deep Grace Ekka, Nisha, Gurjit Kaur, Salima Tete, Sunita Lakra
Midfielders: Monika, Nikki Pradhan, Lilima Minz, Neha Goyal, Sushila Chanu
Forwards: Rani Rampal (C), Vandana Kataria, Navjot Kaur, Navneet Kaur, Lalremsiami, Jyoti
Head Coach: Sjoerd Marijne
Here is how you can catch all the action
Event: Women's FIH Series Finals 2019
Venue: Hiroshima, Japan
Date: 15 June 2019
Time: 2:30 pm Indian Standard Time (IST)
Telecast: No Telecast in India
Live Streaming: FIH Live
Live Updates: Sportskeeda
Sjoerd Marijne's charges may take a while to find their rhythm but will look to attack particularly in the second half in order to craft a comprehensive win in their opener.