India names 18-man women’s hockey team for CWG

New Delhi: India on Thursday designated an 18-man women’s hockey team for the upcoming Commonwealth Games, with star striker Rani Rampal again being left out as he failed to regain full fitness following an injury.

The CWG team is very similar to the team competing in the World Cup next month.

The team is led by the goalkeeper Savita Punic while veteran defender Deep Grace Ekka will be her deputy in the Birmingham CWG, which will be held from July 28 to August 8. The duo will also take on the same roles in the World Cup, which will be co-hosted by the Netherlands and Spain from July 1 to 17.

There are only three changes to the World Cup squad CWG squad. Rajani Etimarpu was named in place of Bichu Devi Kharibam as the number two goalkeeper, while World Cup team member Sonika (midfielder) was left out of the CWG squad. Striker Sangita Kumari, who was named as one of the substitute players for the World Cup, appeared as a full member of the CWG team.

India is placed in Group A, along with England, Canada, Wales and Ghana. They will start their campaign against Ghana on July 29.

Rani, who led the Indian women to a historic fourth-place finish at the Tokyo Olympics, was selected for recent FIH Pro League games in Belgium and the Netherlands after recovering from a hamstring injury.

She did not appear in the first four games of the European section of the Pro League, which cast doubts about her fitness. In the end, it cost her a place in the World Cup selection.

In the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, India had finished fourth after losing to England in the bronze medal match. However, after an impressive campaign in their first FIH Pro League, where they finished third behind Argentina and the Netherlands, the Indian team is looking for a podium finish in Birmingham.

Speaking about the team selection, head coach Janneke Schopman said: “We have picked an experienced side for the Commonwealth Games and the players think they have a good chance of a medal this time around.

“The team is optimistic after a good performance in the FIH Pro League matches and understands very well that expectations are also high.

“We would have finished our World Cup campaign just days before the CWG, so it was very essential for us to choose a physically fit team as the recovery time between the two events is only about 10 days,” added Schopman ready.

Indian Women’s Hockey Team for CWG:

Goalkeepers: Savita (c), Rajani Etimarpu

Defenders: Deep Grace Ekka (vc), Gurjit Kaur, Nikki Pradhan, Udita

Midfielders: Nisha, Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam, Monika, Neha, Jyoti, Navjot Kaur, Salima Tete

Attackers: Vandana Katariya, Lalremsiami, Navneet Kaur, Sharmila Devi, Sangita Kumari.

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