Rani Rampal to captain India for C’wealth Games

The Indian women’s hockey team begins its campaign against Wales on April 5.

Rani Rampal is confident India will perform well in Australia.   -  K. Murali Kumar

After an impressive performance in South Korea, the Indian women's hockey team will head to the Commonwealth Games confident of improving on its fifth-placed finish from the previous edition.

This month's 3-1 series win in Korea followed the historic Asia Cup success late last year, leading chief coach Harendra Singh to state that his side was capable of claiming the top prize. “Ten games separate us from the gold medal; I'm 100 percent confident my girls will do it,” he said at the SAI here on Wednesday, after India announced an 18-member squad.

 “We’ve prepared ourselves well for each opponent. I always want to climb Mount Everest; I'm not interested in Kanchenjunga or K2.”

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India, ranked 10 in the world, has been placed in Pool A with Malaysia, Wales, England and South Africa and will begin its campaign on April 5 against Wales.

Rani Rampal will captain the team with goal-keeper Savita, who was rested for the Korea tour, to be her deputy. The veterans Deepika and Poonam Rani returned for the Korea tour after lengthy injury breaks; they will be expected to contribute a great deal at the Commonwealth Games.

Rani Rampal felt the team had learnt much from its disappointing show at the 2016 Olympics, where it finished last. “We learnt a lot about where we stand in world hockey,” she said. “Our morale was low. But we regained our confidence in the Asia Cup. For now, we shouldn’t take pressure. You get very few opportunities to represent the country in such tournaments.”

Squad
  • Goalkeepers: Savita (vice-captain), Rajani Etimarpu.
  • Defenders: Deepika, Sunita Lakra, Deep Grace Ekka, Gurjit Kaur, Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam.
  • Midfielders: Monika, Namita Toppo, Nikki Pradhan, Neha Goyal, Lilima Minz.
  • Forwards: Rani Rampal (captain), Vandana Katariya, Lalremsiami, Navjot Kaur, Navneet Kaur, Poonam Rani.