Bengaluru, March 13: Midfielder Manpreet Singh will lead an 18-member Indian squad for the Commonwealth Games (CWG) to be held in Gold Coast, Australia, from April 4 to 15.
However, there is no place for veteran Sardar Singh, who led India in the recently concluded Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, where they could manage only a fifth-place finish.
The squad was announced by Hockey India on Tuesday (March 13). Manpreet will have Chinglensana Singh Kangujam as his deputy. At CWG, Indian is drawn along with Pakistan, Malaysia, Wales and England in Pool B.
ANNOUNCEMENT! Here are the 18 players selected for the Indian Men's Hockey Team's campaign for the prestigious Gold Coast2018XXICommonwealth Gamesin Australia. The tournament will commence on 7th April. Read here for all details - https://t.co/L0YwBVZZDw#IndiaKaGame— Hockey India (@TheHockeyIndia) March 13, 2018
India will begin their campaign with the high-voltage contest against arch rivals Pakistan on April 7.
It was under Manpreet's leadership that India won the Asia Cup last year.
Later, they followed it up with a bronze medal at the Hockey World League (HWL) Final in Bhubaneswar.
Drag-flick specialist Rupinder Pal Singh will form India's wall of defense along with Harmanpreet Singh, Varun Kumar, Kothajit Singh, Gurinder Singh and Amit Rohidas, while seasoned pro PR Sreejesh will guard the goal.
Sreejesh, who had made a strong comeback into the team during the New Zealand tour, will be assisted by the 22-year-old Suraj Karkera who did well in the HWL.
Manpreet will play the lead role in the midfield and will have Chinglensana for support along with youngsters Sumit and Vivek Sagar Prasad.
The Indian attack will feature a blend of youth and experience with SV Sunil, Akashdeep Singh, Mandeep Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Gurjant Singh and Dilpreet Singh all named in the squad.
Dilpreet Singh and Vivek Sagar Prasad who made their international debut during the New Zealand tour and scored in important games, have been rewarded for their good performance.
"This team has been picked keeping in mind the team's performance in the previous tournaments since the Asia Cup 2017. We've tried out different combinations in the past events and we believe this will be the most effective combination for the Gold Coast CWG," said chief coach Sjoerd Marijne.
He added that the team has a winning mindset and will look to aim for the best in the quadrennial event. "This team has been improving with every match and while we couldn't produce a podium finish at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, it'll have no influence on how we're going to play in Australia and we'll be going there with a mindset to win," said the 43-year-old Dutchman.
Though India had lost to Australia in the final of the past two CWG's, Manpreet is confident of turning the tables this time.
"Our first aim is to do well in the group stage because we've some strong teams in our pool. It's extremely crucial to top our table and make the semis, but if we do meet Australia in the knockouts, I believe we'll be up for a strong challenge," said the 25-year-old.
(Source: Hockey India)
1. PR Sreejesh
2. Suraj Karkera
3. Rupinder Pal Singh
4. Harmanpreet Singh
5. Varun Kumar
6. Kothajit Singh Kadangbam
7. Gurinder Singh
8. Amit Rohidas
9. Manpreet Singh(C)
10. Chinglensana Singh Kangujam (VC)
12. Vivek Sagar Prasad
13. Akashdeep Singh
14. Sunil Sowmarpet Vitalacharya
15. Gurjant Singh
16. Mandeep Singh
17. Lalit Kumar Upadhyay
18. Dilpreet Singh