India on Monday named a full-strength 18-member men's hockey squad for the Commonwealth Games.
Manpreet Singh returns as captain and dragflicker Harmanpreet Singh has been appointed as vice-captain.
Hockey India (HI) had initially decided to send a second-string team to the Commonwealth Games due to the short turnaround time between the Birmingham event and the Hangzhou Asian Games, which is a qualifier for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
However, with the Asian Games now postponed to next year owing to the COVID-19 situation in China, HI decided to pick a strong team for the prestigious event, scheduled to begin from July 28.
The Indian team has been grouped in Pool B along with England, Canada, Wales and Ghana. The two-time former silver medallist will begin its campaign on July 31 against Ghana.
Manpreet had led the Indian team to a historic bronze medal at the Olympic Games in Tokyo last year and he will take over the reins from Amit Rohidas, who was the captain for the FIH Pro League tour of Belgium and the Netherlands.
Harmanpreet, who has been named the deputy, emerged as the highest goal scorer of the FIH Hockey Pro League. "We have gone with a tried-and-tested team for the Commonwealth Games. These players have the experience of playing top teams in high pressure games in the FIH Pro League which was a good exposure for us ahead of the prestigious quadrennial event," chief coach Graham Reid said.
"After a brief break when we return home from Netherlands, we will resume camp in SAI, Bengaluru where we will analyze our performance against Belgium and Netherlands.
"While there are many takeaways from this outing in FIH Pro League, there surely are a few areas that we can improve upon ahead of the Commonwealth Games."
The squad includes experienced goalkeeper PR Sreejesh and Krishan B Pathak, who returns to the team after a brief injury break. Defenders Varun Kumar, Surender Kumar, Harmanpreet Singh, Amit Rohidas, Jugraj Singh and Jarmanpreet Singh have been named in the team. The midfield comprises Manpreet, Hardik Singh, Vivek Sagar Prasad, Shamsher Singh, Akashdeep Singh and Nilakanta Sharma.
Seasoned strikers Mandeep Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Gurjant Singh and Abhishek will lead the charge in attack.
Goalkeeper Suraj Karkera and forwards Shilanand Lakra and Sukhjeet Singh, who were part of the FIH Pro League, are missing from the squad.
India had finished fourth at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast.
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