New Delhi: Senior players Sandeep Singh, Shivendra Singh and Ignace Tirkey were axed from India’s 18-member hockey squad announced by Hockey India for the upcoming 34th men’s FIH Champions Trophy and Lanco International Super Series in Australia.
With an eye on future, the Hockey India selectors made as many as seven changes from the squad that represented India in this year’s London Olympics, where they finished a disappointing 12th and last.
Mid-fielder Gurbaj Singh and striker Sarvanjit Singh, who all played in the Olympics, have also been dropped from the Australia-bound team.
The squad also does not include goalkeeper Bharat Chetri, who led India in the London Games and senior striker Tushar Khandker. Both Chetri and Khandker were omitted from the pruned 33-member probables list last month.
Promising striker Yuvraj Walmiki, who was left out of the Olympics squad due to a hamstring injury, returned to the squad along with defender Rupinderpal Singh.
Nithin Thimmaiah and Akashdeep Singh were the two new inclusion in the forwardline, while P R Sreejesh and P T Rao are the two goalkeepers in the squad. Defender Harbir Singh and mid-fielder Gurmail Singh are also two new faces in the national team.
Star mid-fielder Sardar Singh will lead the team in both the tournaments in Australia, while defender VR Raghunath has been named his deputy.
The selectors also named six stand-byes in Srenivas Rao (goalkeeper), Amit Rohidas (defender), M B Aiyappa (halfback), Chinglensana Singh (forward), Pradhanna Sommanna (forward) and P L Thimmanna (forward).
Hockey India selectors Col Balbir Singh, B P Govinda and Thoiba Singh as well as government observer Harbinder Singh and chief coach Michael Nobbs picked the squad after witnessing the three-day trials at SAI Centre, Netaji Subash Institute of Sports in Patiala from October 25-27.
According to sources in the selection meeting, all the selectors and coaches were unanimous in their decision of giving youngsters a chance in the wake of India’s disastrous Olympics outing.
“There are no injury scares. The team has been picked completely on the basis of form, fitness and keeping in mind the future of Indian hockey,” a HI selector told PTI.
“All those present in the selection meeting were of the opinion that it is time for non-performers to clear the way for youngsters,” he added.
India will take part in the Lanco International Super Series at Perth from 22 to 25 November which will also feature England, Australia and Pakistan.
India will open their campaign against England on 22 November, followed by matches against Australia (23 November) and Pakistan (24 November).
The Lanco International Super Series will be followed by the FIH Champions Trophy at the State Netball Hockey Centre in Melbourne from 1 to 9 December.
India are placed in Pool A along side England, Germany and New Zealand, while hosts Australia, Belgium, Netherlands and Pakistan are in Pool B.
India open their campaign in the Champions Trophy against England on December 1 followed by matches against New Zealand ( 2 December) and Germany (4 December) respectively.
Goalkeepers: P R Sreejesh, P T Rao
Fullbacks: V R Raghunath (vice-captain), Rupinderpal Singh, Harbir Singh
Halfbacks: Sardar Singh (captain), Kothajit Singh, Birendra Lakra, Manpreet Singh, Gurmail Singh
Forwards: S V Sunil, Gurvinder Singh Chandi, Danish Mujtaba, S K Uthappa, Nithin Thimmaiah, Yuvraj Walmiki, Dharamvir Singh, Akashdeep Singh
Standbyes: Srenivas Rao (goalkeeper), Amit Rohidas (defender), M B Aiyappa (halfback), Chinglensana Singh (forward), Pradhanna Sommanna (forward), P L Thimmanna (forward).