CWG squad: Sardar dropped; Sreejesh recalled

Seasoned goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh made a comeback while former skipper Sardar Singh was dropped from India's 18-member hockey squad for the upcoming 21st Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast.

Sardar Singh was dropped from the Indian squad for the upcoming Commonwealth Games.   -  AFP

Seasoned goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh made a comeback while former skipper Sardar Singh was dropped from India's 18-member hockey squad for the upcoming 21st Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast.

India is in Pool B along with Pakistan, Malaysia, Wales, England and will begin its campaign on April 7 against Pakistan.

 

While Manpreet will don the captain’s armband, Chinglensana Singh Kangujam will be his deputy. It was under Manpreet’s leadership that India lifted the coveted Asia Cup 2017 followed by a bronze-medal winning feat at the Men’s Hockey World League Finals in Bhubaneswar, last year.

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Veteran custodian Sreejesh returns to the side after recovering from a medial collateral ligament (MCL) injury, the 29-year-old returning to his rightful place after a fine performance in New Zealand.

He will be ably supported by 22-year-old Suraj Karkera, who played a crucial role in Bhubaneswar last year.

Sardar axe not surprising

Sardar’s exclusion, following a below-par outing at this year’s Azlan Shah Cup, was on expected lines. However, Ramandeep Singh's ouster - despite putting up a decent show in the same tournament - raised a few eyebrows.

Youngsters Dilpreet Singh and Vivek Sagar Prasad, who made their debut in New Zealand, will be flying to Australia.

Freeman and drag-flick expert Rupinder Pal Singh will form India’s wall of defence alongside Harmanpreet Singh, Varun Kumar, Kothajit Singh, Gurinder Singh and Amit Rohidas.

India’s midfield will see skipper Manpreet Singh in the lead role, with Chinglensana, Sumit, and Vivek lending him support.

READ: Our focus is on winning Asian Games and WC, says Marijne

With the likes of S.V. Sunil, Akashdeep Singh, Mandeep Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Gurjant Singh and Dilpreet Singh in its ranks, the Indian attack sports a fine balance between experience and youth.

"This squad has been picked keeping in mind the performance in the previous tournaments since the Asia Cup 2017. We have tried out different combinations of the past events and we believe this will be the most effective combination for the Gold Coast 2018 XXI Commonwealth Games," said chief coach Sjoerd Marijne.

He further stated that the team has a winning mindset and will look to aim for the best in the quadrennial event.

"This team has been improving with every match and while we could not produce a podium finish at the 27th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup 2018, it will have no influence on how we are going to play in Australia and we will be going there with a mindset to win,” said the 43-year-old Dutch coach.

In its previous two outings at the Commonwealth Games, India has finished second behind Australia. Skipper Manpreet Singh, however, is confident of turning the tables this time.

"Our first aim is to do well in the group stage because we have some strong teams in our pool. It’s extremely crucial to top our table and make the semifinal but if we do meet Australia in the knockouts, I believe we will be up for a strong challenge," said the 25-year-old Manpreet.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: PR Sreejesh, Suraj Karkera;

Defenders: Rupinder Pal Singh, Harmanpreet Singh, Varun Kumar, Kothajit Singh, Gurinder Singh, Amit Rohidas;

Midfielders: Manpreet Singh (C), Chinglensana Singh (vice-captain), Sumit, Vivek Sagar Prasad; Forwards: Akashdeep Singh, SV Sunil, Gurjant Singh, Mandeep Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Dilpreet Singh.

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