Fringe players chase Indian hockey team berths at nationals in Lucknow

The senior national men’s A division hockey championship will feature 20 teams and provide chance for players to impress selectors as a busy international calendar lies ahead in 2018.

other sports Updated: Mar 14, 2018 23:52 IST
Sharad Deep
Sharad Deep
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Indian hockey team,hockey,Danish Mujtaba
Indian hockey team berths will be up for grabs at the nationals in Lucknow.(PTI)

Unlike last year when players struggled in the heat after the senior national men’s A division hockey championship was shifted to May due to the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls, weather looks perfect this time for the tournament starting here on Thursday.

The 11-day event, with the final to be played on March 25, is a big opportunity for many, including former India forward Danish Mujtaba and a few core group players, to make an impression as the doors are still open for a few talented players to make it to the Indian team with a busy international calendar, including the Asian Games and World Cup, ahead.

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Even if they failed to make the cut for the core group probables list of 24, they could make it to the development group of 24 players. “There is all the possibility of getting selected for events like the Asian Champions Trophy (October 18-28 in Oman), but to make the cut one has to be extraordinary at the nationals,” a selector RP Singh said on Wednesday.

National selector BP Govinda as well as Hockey India’s high performance director David John would be here to spot talent. A number of core group players like Harjeet Singh, Simranjeet Singh, Talwinder, Ishan Tirkey and Birendra Lakra, representing Petroleum Sports Control Board, are expected to play.

In all 20 teams, including holders Railway Sports Promotion Board (RSPB) and runners-up Punjab and Sindh Bank, have confirmed participation. Out of the 48 matches, 32 would be played at the new Padamshree Mohd Shahid hockey stadium, and the rest at the Dhyan Chand stadium in the Guru Govind Singh Sports College.

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The Danish Mujtaba-led hosts and former runners-up Uttar Pradesh, in Group A with RSPB, Madhya Pradesh Hockey Academy, Hockey Odisha and Hockey Bhopal, will begin their campaign against MPHA on Thursday, which will see eight matches being played.

First Published: Mar 14, 2018 23:48 IST