Sardar, Lakra return to Indian side for Champions Trophy

Sardar Singh and Birendra Lakra are set to make a comeback in the Indian hockey team for the upcoming Champions Trophy in June.

Sardar Singh missed out on the Commonwealth Games held in Gold Coast, Australia.   -  THE HINDU ARCHIVES

 

Former captain Sardar Singh was brought back to bolster the Indian hockey team’s mid-field while Birendra Lakra was included to shore up the defence line-up for the upcoming Champions Trophy, beginning on June 23 in Breda, The Netherlands.

Hockey India, on Thursday, announced the 18-man squad for the final edition of the prestigious event and made a lot of changes to the side, led by goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh.

READ: Harendra ready to take on the pressure of results

Sardar was not part of the Indian team, which had a disappointing outing at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. He was expected to reclaim his place in the side after being included in the national training camp in Bengaluru.

Also making a comeback to the side is Lakra, who like Sardar, was not part of the CWG squad.

The selectors have dropped defenders Rupinder, Kothajit Singh and Gurinder Singh while Jaramanpreet Singh and Surendra Kumar were included.

ALSO READ: Almost everyone in our team has trained under Harendra, says Sreejesh

Among the strikers, the axe fell on Lalit Upadhyay and Gurjant Singh as Ramandeep Singh earned his place back.

The selectors also replaced goalkeeper Suraj Karkera with Krishan Bahadur Pathak.

Sreejesh, under whose captaincy India won a silver in the last edition, said the team is determined to do well.

India, who had its first podium finish after 34 years, had lost the final to world no.1 Australia.

“I think that was the closest we came to winning the gold and most importantly beating Australia. Though we had to settle for a second place, it was a memorable tournament. This time too, we want to make it a memorable one as it’s the last edition of the prestigious event,” said Sreejesh.

Chief coach Harendra Singh made it clear that the players have to do well to be in the reckoning for a place in the Asian Games squad.

“It is an extremely important tournament for the players to showcase their firepower as the team for the forthcoming Asian Games in Jakarta will be picked on the basis of performance at the Commonwealth Games and the Champions Trophy,” Singh said.

“While this team will be put to test against another Asian powerhouse Pakistan who we will face in the Asian Games, the Champions Trophy will provide the ideal platform to see where we stand against higher-ranked teams like Australia, Belgium, The Netherlands and Argentina in the lead up to the World Cup,” he added.

India will begin its campaign at the Champions Trophy against arch-rivals Pakistan on June 23.

Indian Team

Goalkeepers: Sreejesh Parattu Raveendran (C), Krishan Bahadur Pathak

Defenders: Harmanpreet Singh, Varun Kumar, Surender Kumar, Jarmanpreet Singh, Birendra Lakra and Amit Rohidas.

Midfielders: Manpreet Singh, Chinglensana Singh Kangujam (VC), Sardar Singh and Vivek Sagar Prasad.

Forwards: Sunil Sowmarpet Vitalacharya, Ramandeep Singh, Mandeep Singh, Sumit Kumar (Jr.), Akashdeep Singh and Dilpreet Singh.