Seasoned goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh will lead an 18-member Indian hockey team in the final edition of the Champions Trophy at Breda in the Netherlands from June 23. Under Sreejesh's leadership, the Indian team created history in the previous edition by clinching the silver after a tense final encounter with World No.1 Australia. It was India's first podium finish at the Champions Trophy in 34 years. "I think that was the closest we came to winning the Gold and most importantly beating Australia. Though we had to settle for a second place, it was a memorable tournament. This time too, we want to make it a memorable one as it's the last edition of the prestigious event," said Sreejesh in a statement. Sreejesh will be joined by youngster Krishan Pathak as goalkeeper while India's defence will see the experienced Birendra Lakra make a comeback into the squad.
He will be joined by drag-flickers Harmanpreet Singh, Varun Kumar and Amit Rohidas along with Surender Kumar and debut player Jarmanpreet Singh who earned a place in the Core Group after a stupendous domestic season.
India's midfield will be formed by stalwart Sardar Singh, Manpreet Singh, Chinglensana Singh Kangujam and the talented Vivek Sagar Prasad. The forward line will feature SV Sunil, Ramandeep Singh, Akashdeep Singh, Mandeep Singh, Dilpreet Singh and Sumit Kumar (Jr).
"The team is a good mix of youth and experienced players. The Champions Trophy 2018 is an extremely important tournament for the players to showcase their firepower as the team for the forthcoming Asian Games in Jakarta will be picked based on the performance there and the Commonwealth Games," head coach Harendra Singh said.
India's aim will be to finish on the podium to set the momentum right ahead of major International events such as the Asian Games in August and the much-awaited Odisha Hockey Men's World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018 starting in November.
"While this team will be put to test against another Asian powerhouse Pakistan who we will face in the Asian Games, the Champions Trophy will provide the ideal platform to see where we stand against higher ranked teams like Australia, Belgium, The Netherlands and Argentina in the lead up to the World Cup in Bhubaneswar," Singh added.
India will begin their campaign at the Champions Trophy against arch-rivals Pakistan on June 23.
Goalkeepers: Sreejesh Parattu Raveendran (Captain), Krishan Bahadur Pathak;
Defenders: Harmanpreet Singh, Varun Kumar, Surender Kumar, Jarmanpreet Singh, Birendra Lakra, Amit Rohidas;
Midfielders: Manpreet Singh, Chinglensana Singh Kangujam (VC), Sardar Singh, Vivek Sagar Prasad;
Forwards: Sunil Sowmarpet Vitalacharya, Ramandeep Singh, Mandeep Singh, Sumit Kumar (Jr.), Akashdeep Singh, Dilpreet Singh.