Women’s CT hockey: Confident India to take on Japan on May 13

The team will miss the experience of captain Rani, forward Poonam Rani and defender Sushila Chanu.

Indian players celebrate the win over England at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast.   -  Getty Images

Defending champion India will begin its campaign in the 5th Asian Women’s Champions Trophy hockey tournament against Japan on May 13 at the Donghae City in Korea.

The other teams in the fray are China, Malaysia and host Korea.

After having won the title in 2016 followed by the Asia Cup victory in 2017, we want to make this yet another memorable event, defender Sunita Lakra said before team’s departure.

Read: Sunita to captain India

While India finished outside podium at the Commonwealth Games, the experience will help Indian women, feels Lakra.

Though we believe we could have returned home with a medal, we did well against teams like Australia and England. We will be carrying this confidence into the Asian Champions Trophy which will help us understand where we stand ahead of the much-important Asian Games in Jakarta, Lakra added.

The team will be missing the experience of captain Rani, forward Poonam Rani and defender Sushila Chanu, who have been rested but Lakra believes this won’t deter the team’s target of defending the title.

Yes, they will be missed but the team is a good mix of experience and youth. The younger players have had good international exposure over the past year and have played together for a while.

“We understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and this is also a good platform for youngsters to show their game ahead of the World Cup and Asian Games. The team has had good preparations in SAI, Bengaluru over the past three weeks and we are confident of a good show, Lakra said.