Defender Harmanpreet Singh was on Friday named the captain of the 18-member Indian squad which will compete at the FIH men’s Hockey World Cup, commencing on January 13 in Odisha.
Defender Amit Rohidas will serve as Harmanpreet’s deputy.
Harmanpreet had also captained the side in the recent series against Australia, where the side fought hard before losing the five-match rubber 1-4.
Mid-fielder Manpreet Singh had led the team at the Tokyo Olympics where India won a historic bronze medal but he will feature in the team as a player this time as coach Graham Reid has handed the captain’s band to different players over a period of time. Reid’s endeavour has been to create leaders from the senior group.
In the past Amit Rohidas has also led India The World Cup squad was selected after two-day trials in SAI Centre in Bengaluru where 33 players were put to test. It features a good mix of experienced and young players who will strive to end India’s wait for a podium finish at the prestigious event.
Gurjant Singh and Dilpreet Singh, who were part of the Tokyo Olympic squad, are not part of the main team but will be there with World Cup team as standbys.
“The team is purely picked on the basis of current form and performance of players. There was no other criteria,” a Hockey India selector told PTI.
Krishan B Pathak and PR Sreejesh, who will be playing his fourth World Cup – his third on home soil, have been chosen as goalkeepers.
Captain Harmapreet will spearhead the team’s defence along with vice-captain Rohidas, Surender Kumar, Varun Kumar, Jarmanpreet Singh and Nilam Sanjeep Xess.
The midfield will see the return of young prodigy Vivek Sagar Prasad, who missed the recent tour of Australia as well as the FIH Hockey Pro League due to an ankle injury.
He will be joined by Manpreet, Hardik Singh, Nilakanta Sharma, Shamsher Singh and the experienced Akashdeep Singh.
The forward line will feature Mandeep Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay and youngsters Abhishek and Sukhjeet Singh who have been impressive since making their debuts earlier this year.
The two alternate players chosen are Rajkumar Pal and Jugraj Singh.
Talking about the team selection, Reid said, “A home World Cup puts extra importance and extra pressure on this event like no other. Every country chooses the best team they believe is available to them at the time and tries to provide their team with the best preparation they can.” “We have also tried to do both with the selection of our Indian World Cup team, choosing a mixture of experienced and younger exciting players who can provide something special.” India will begin their World Cup campaign against Spain on January 13 at the newly-built Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium in Rourkela followed by their second pool D match against England.
They will move to Bhubaneswar to play their third pool match against Wales.
The knockout stage will begin with crossover matches on January 22 and 23. The quarterfinals will take place on January 25 and the semifinals on January 27.
The bronze medal match and the final will be held on January 29.
“We have also had a great preparation over the last two months including a home Pro League series and a very tough tour to Australia against the World No.1.
“We are looking forward to getting to Odisha and put the finishing touches to our preparations for what will be an exciting and challenging tournament ahead,” Reid said.
Squad ==== Goalkeepers: Krishan Bahadur Pathak and Sreejesh Parattu Raveendran.
Defenders: Jarmanpreet Singh, Surender Kumar, Harmanpreet Singh (Captain), Varun Kumar, Amit Rohidas (Vice-captain), Nilam Sanjeep Xess Midfielders: Manpreet Singh, Hardik Singh,Nilakanta Sharma, Shamsher Singh, Vivek Sagar Prasad, Akashdeep Singh.
Forwards: Mandeep Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Abhishek and Sukhjeet Singh.
Alternate Players: Rajkumar Pal and Jugraj Singh.