Experienced Chinglensana Singh returned to the Indian team after almost a year while youngster Sumit too made the cut for the 20-member Indian men’s hockey team that would take on World No. 3 Netherlands for the FIH Hockey Pro League 2020 season-opener later this week.
India would play on January 18 and 19 in Bhubaneswar in the first of its four home fixtures of the competition.
While Chinglensana suffered an ankle fracture during the final of the 9th National Championships in February last year in February – even though he led Railways to a title triumph – Sumit had suffered a wrist injury during the FIH Men's Series Finals in June 2019, which India won.
“We have chosen a relatively experienced team. While Varun will be back in training this week, he wasn’t able to be considered for selection. But we will get a chance to see Chinglensana and Sumit coming back from long injury lay-offs. Both have been training well and are physically fit. It will be important to start strong and sharp in the Pro League with our first three ties being against the top-three teams in the world. We will be focussing on getting our structures right as preparation for our Olympic campaign,” chief coach Graham Reid said.
Also coming back after a long hiatus was striker Gurjant Singh, part of the 2016 Junior World Cup side but failing to cement his place in the senior side, after impressing the team management during the national camps.
However, defender and drag-flicker Varun Kumar failed to get back to full fitness in time after suffering a nerve injury during the Olympic Qualifiers in November last.
India last played Netherlands in the quarterfinals of the 2018 World Cup, losing 1-2 to the eventual runners-up. India would then take on Belgium (February 8-9) and Australia (February 21-22) before leaving for their away fixtures.
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