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India vs New Zealand women’s hockey series: Rani to lead team for five Tests

The hockey series against New Zealand is expected to be keenly contested as the Rani-led Indian women’s hockey team has started the season on a positive note, beating Belarus in a five-Test series and emerging victorious in the Women’s Hockey World League Round 2

other sports Updated: May 04, 2017 14:48 IST
PTI
The Indian women’s hockey team for the New Zealand Test series is a blend of youth and experience.
The Indian women’s hockey team for the New Zealand Test series is a blend of youth and experience. (Hockey India)

Striker Rani will lead a 20-member Indian women’s hockey team in a five-Test series against New Zealand in Midlands, starting May 14. Defender Sushila Chanu will be Rani’s deputy during the series. Sushila is making a comeback after nearly eight months of rehabilitation due to an injury.

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The team is a blend of youth and experience with the defence line comprising Deep Grace Ekka, Udita, Sunita Lakra, Namita Toppo, Sushila and drag-flicker Gurjit Kaur.

Savita is the first goalkeeper of the squad. Savita had a fantastic outing at the Women’s Hockey World League Round 2 where she was adjudged the ‘Goalkeeper of the tournament’. Rajani Etimarpu will travel as the second goal keeper in the team.

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The midfield will be formed by the experienced Ritu Rani, Lilima Minz, Navjot Kaur, Monika, Renuka Yadav, Nikki Pradhan and Reena Khokar. The forwardline features Rani, Vandana Katariya, Preeti Dubey, Sonika and Anupa Barla.

The senior women’s team has had a great start to the new season with some remarkable wins. They kicked off the year with an emphatic five-match Test series win against Belarus. The team returned victorious from the Women’s Hockey World League Round 2 beating Chile in the final and securing their berth for the World League Semifinal in June.

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Dutchman Sjoerd Marijne, the newly-appointed chief coach for the Indian women’s team, is confident the New Zealand tour will help the team gain the required exposure ahead of important tournament lined up in June. “The goal of the tour is to play well against a higher-ranked team and experience on what level we are now. If we can execute the plans we have focused on through the camp, I am confident we can notch up good results. Doing well against a team like New Zealand will bring a lot of confidence to the team,” expressed Marijne.

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The team has been put through the grind in a 21-day camp at SAI, Bengaluru where the team trains three session a day. Marijne says the emphasis was on fitness and scientific advisor Wayne Lombard has been working with the team one session each day.

“The focus of the camp was on fitness, improving individual technique as well as developing our defensive structure.”

Squad: Goalkeepers: Savita, Rajani Etimarpu ; Defenders: Deep Grace Ekka, Udita, Sunita Lakra, Gurjit Kaur, Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam (VC), Namita Toppo; Midfielders: Ritu Rani, Lilima Minz, Navjot Kaur, Monika, Renuka Yadav, Nikki Pradhan, Reena Khokar; Forwards: Rani (Captain), Vandana Katariya, Preeti Dubey, Sonika, Anupa Barla.