Hockey World Cup 2018: Meet the Indian team

Here are the 18 players leading India's challenge in the Men's Hockey World Cup 2018 in Bhubaneswar, Odisha.

Midfielder Manpreet Singh will lead the Indian team coached by Harendra Singh.   -  BISWARANJAN ROUT

Harendra Singh, Head Coach: Represented India between 1985 and 1991 as a player and took up coaching at the age of 32. He guided India’s Junior team to the 2016 Junior Hockey World Cup in Lucknow and worked with the women’s senior team, before being swapped with Dutch coach Sjoerd Marijne in May 2018. After finishing second at the 2018 Champions Trophy, India finished third at the Asian Games 2018. The 52-year old made some surprising decisions by dropping Rupinder Pal Singh and Ramandeep Singh to go with a young team for the World Cup.

Harendra Singh has made some tough decisions after taking over as the men's team head coach in May, 2018.   -  K. Murali Kumar

 

Captain

Manpreet Singh, 26: The most capped player in the squad, with 238 international caps, he is a big presence in the midfield. Manpreet is a skilled dribbler and tough to dispossess. He is the heart of most attacking moves.

Manpreet Singh needs to lead from the front as India begins its campaign in Bhubaneswar from November 28.   -  Getty Images

 

Goalkeepers

 

P.R. Sreejesh, 30: With 204 international caps, including two Olympics and a World Cup, under his belt, he has had a stellar career. He captained India to two silver-medal finishes in the 2016 and 2018 Champions Trophy, and the gold medal at the 2014 Asian Games.

 

Krishan Bahadur Pathak, 21: The young custodian from Kapurthala has been Sreejesh's understudy for while. He has held on to his place in the squad ever since lifting the 2016 Junior Hockey World Cup in Lucknow. India’s head coach Harendra Singh believes Krishan is the future.

 

Defenders

 

Harmanpreet Singh, 22: With Rupinder Pal Singh failing to make the cut, he has the responsibility of taking penalty corners. He is in good form, having scored six goals in the Asian Champions Trophy in Oman.

 

Varun Kumar, 23: He too can step up for penalty corners and his abilities have improved under analytical coach Chris Ciriello. He is good at dispossessing attackers on the edge of the box.

 

Surender Kumar, 24: After impressing with the Junior team and in the Hockey World League, he made his senior team debut in 2013 in the Champions Trophy and recently went past 100 international caps at the Asian Champions Trophy. He displays great pace while surging forward and is capable of creating scoring opportunities with his crosses from the right flank.

 

Amit Rohidas, 25: The Odisha player is also a penalty corner specialist, and is a stable influence during the closing moments. Rohidas was nearly dropped for the 2018 Asian Champions Trophy, but made the squad at the last minute, underscoring the faith the coaching setup has in him.

 

Kothajit Singh, 26: A key figure since 2012, he has notched up 186 international caps. Adept at playing in the midfield and in the defence, Kothajit is a tough tackler and will be tasked with breaking up opposition attacks.

 

Birendra Lakra, 28: Technically-gifted and creative while going forward, he has the experience of playing in the World Cup and Olympics. Alongside Kothajit, his experience will be important for the young defence.

Midfielders

 

Nilakanta Sharma, 23: One of the seven players from the 2016 Junior World Cup-winning squad, he is a constant threat in the final fourth with his accurate passes. The Manipur man has good positional sense and the ability to score against packed defences.

 

Chinglensana Singh Kangujam, 26 (vice-captain): He will make his 200th international appearance in India’s World Cup opener against South Africa. A gifted passer of the ball, he also has the best hold-up skills in the team.

 

Hardik Singh, 20: He made his international debut in the Asian Champions Trophy and displayed enough skills for the coach to pick him ahead of Jarmanpreet Singh. Hardik is the nephew of India's former drag-flicker Jugraj Singh.

 

Sumit, 21: He has emerged as one of the brightest prospects in the last two years. He has the perfect platform to prove himself on the biggest stage after his idol Sardar Singh retired in September.

Forwards

 

Akashdeep Singh, 23: He is the leader of the attack and will have to step up even more in the absence of S.V. Sunil. Akashdeep was India’s top scorer at the 2014 World Cup, with five goals, and also has the experience of playing at the Olympics. He has a knack for scoring spectacular goals.

 

Mandeep Singh, 23: His ability to read the spaces inside the circle makes him a handy finisher. He has often displayed speed and agility in cashing in on penalty-corner rebounds.

 

Simranjeet Singh, 21: A new face in the senior team, he showed promise at the Asian Games and Asian Champions Trophy. Scored the winning goal against Belgium in the 2016 Junior World Cup final.

 

Dilpreet Singh, 19: The wiry teenager made his U-21 debut in November, 2017, in the Sultan of Johor Cup and has already notched up 36 appearances for the senior side. He often showcases composure beyond his years and scores from tough angles.

 

Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, 24: He is able to pierce tough defences with his passing range and can score goals during crucial periods. His brightest moment came when his winner against Malaysia helped India lift the 2017 Asia Cup.