Rani to lead Indian women’s hockey team at Commonwealth Games 2018
Rani will lead the 18-member Indian women’s hockey team for the upcoming Gold Coast Commonwealth Games 2018, whereas experienced goalkeeper Savita will be her deputy.other sports Updated: Mar 14, 2018 16:42 IST
Hockey India on Wednesday named the 18-member Indian women’s hockey team for the forthcoming Commonwealth Games, beginning April 4 at Gold Coast in Australia. The Indian team is grouped in Pool A along with Malaysia, Wales, England and South Africa and will begin their campaign on April 5 against Wales.
Rani (Rampal) will lead the 18-member team, whereas experienced goalkeeper Savita will be her deputy. Savita makes a return to the team after having been rested for the recently-concluded tour of South Korea.
The 27-year-old Savita will be accompanied by Rajani Etimarpu in goal, while the defence unit is packed with experience and grit as Deepika, Sunita Lakra, Deep Grace Ekka, Gurjit Kaur and Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam will look to keep out the opposition’s attacks.
Monika, Namita Toppo, Nikki Pradhan, Neha Goyal and Lilima Minz will form the midfield while Rani, Vandana Katariya, Lalremsiami, Navjot Kaur, Navneet Kaur and Poonam Rani, who returned to the squad during South Korea tour, will form India’s attack.
Currently ranked No 10 in the world, India is expected to face some tough challenge from higher ranked teams such as world no 2 England, world no 4 New Zealand and world no 5 hosts Australia.
But chief coach, Harendra Singh is confident that the determined team can cause huge upsets on the back of winning the five-match series in South Korea. “We have played with the same set of players for a long period so the players have formed a great understanding between themselves which was evident during our 2017 Asia Cup triumph,” he said.
“The team also performed well in South Korea to beat a higher-ranked side and we will be looking to cause a few upsets and aim for the podium as the morale is high going into the prestigious Gold Coast event,” he added.
The Coach also welcomed the inclusion of the experienced goalkeeper Savita, who is currently in Oman undergoing a goalkeeping coaching course. “Savita is an integral part of the team and brings a lot of experience in goal for us. She has played over 200 matches for her country and has performed in crucial matches of big tournaments. Therefore, it is good to have her back in the team as she helps the defensive and offensive players as well by imparting her expertise,” said Harendra, who also happens to be the coach of the junior men’s world cup-winning team.
India won their first CWG gold medal at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in England, before capturing a silver medal at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Australia after losing to the hosts in the final. However, the team has only managed to finish fifth in the 2010 and 2014 editions of the tournament.
But skipper Rani is confident that her team can repeat the feat of 2002 and 2006 in Australia. “We go into the tournament in good form after winning the series in South Korea and while we have only finished fifth in the two previous occasions, this time we will look to finish on the podium as we have a great set of players with a mixture of experience and youth,” she said. “The team’s hunger to win will certainly be a key factor in us performing well at the Games.”
TEAM: Savita (vice-captain), Rajani Etimarpu, Deepika, Sunita Lakra, Deep Grace Ekka, Gurjit Kaur, Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam, Monika, Namita Toppo, Nikki Pradhan, Neha Goyal, Lilima Minz, Rani (captain), Vandana Katariya, Lalremsiami, Navjot Kaur, Navneet Kaur and Poonam Rani.