New Delhi, January 8: Goalkeeper PR Sreejesh may feature in his first competitive event in eight months after being named in India's 20-member squad for a four-nation tournament in New Zealand.
India will compete with Belgium, Japan and hosts New Zealand at Tauranga and Hamilton in the tournament, beginning January 17. The team will be led by 25-year-old midfielder Manpreet Singh while Chinglensana Singh Kangujam will be his deputy.
Sreejesh, who missed some key tournaments in 2017 due to a knee injury, will be joined by young goalkeeper Krishan Bahadur Pathak, a member of the 2016 Junior World Cup winning team. Pathak was also part of the India A team which participated at the Australian Hockey League in September.
New inclusions in the team are forward Dilpreet Singh and midfielder Vivek Sagar Prasad. The duo was rewarded for their promising performance at the Sultan of Johor Cup last year where the team returned home with the bronze medal. While Vivek had played an instrumental role in the midfield, Dilpreet was India's goal-getter with nine goals in six matches to his credit.
India's defence features Rupinder Pal Singh, Harmanpreet Singh, Varun Kumar all three will double-up as dragflickers. They will be joined by Birendra Lakra, Surender Kumar and Gurinder Singh in the defense-line.
Sardar Singh and SV Sunil left out of the Indian Hockey team that will tour New Zealand. PR Sreejesh returns while Junior World Cup Winner Krishan Pathak will be his understudy! #IndianHockey— Sports In India (@IndiaAtSport) January 8, 2018
The midfield has skipper Manpreet Singh, Chinglensana Singh, Harjeet Singh, Nilakanta Sharma, Satbir Singh along with debut players Simranjeet Singh and Vivek Sagar Prasad.
India's attack will be led by Ramandeep Singh along with young gun Armaan Qureshi, Dilpreet Singh, Mandeep Singh and Lalit Upadhyay.
"The team continues to remain a good mix of young and experienced players. They will get to show their abilities against top quality teams. This is an important year for us with major tournaments in the pipeline and one of our focus areas is to perform consistently especially against higher ranked teams, said chief coach Sjoerd Marijne.
"We use this tour for our preparation for the Commonwealth Games and look at progressing to the next level after the previous two tournaments," he added.
Goalkeepers: PR Sreejesh, Krishan Bahadur Pathak
Defenders: Harmanpreet Singh, Surender Kumar, Gurinder Singh, Varun Kumar, Rupinderpal Singh, Birendra Lakra.
Midfielders: Manpreet Singh (C), Chinglensana Singh Kangujam (VC), Vivek Sagar Prasad, Harjeet Singh, Nilakanta Sharma, Simranjeet Singh and Satbir Singh
Forwards: Dilpreet Singh, Ramandeep Singh, Mandeep Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay and Armaan Qureshi.