A week after revoking the ban on ace drag-flicker Sandeep Singh and mid-fielder Sardar Singh, Hockey India (HI) recalled the duo in the 22-member India squad for the Four Nation 9-a-side International Super Series and a tri-nation tournament involving Pakistan and hosts Australia.
Goalkeeper Bharat Chetri, 27, will be leading the team for the first time while veteran armyman Ignace Tirkey has been appointed as the vice captain.
The HI slapped a two-year ban on Sandeep and Sardar, who are repeat offenders, after they left the national camp for the Asian Champions Trophy in Bangalore midway last month citing personal reasons. But last week the ban was revoked after the two players tendered an unconditional apology and requested that they be given one last chance.
The team was selected at Bangalore after trials, which were attended by HI selectors B.P. Govinda, Syed Ali, Thoiba Singh and A.B. Subbaiah besides government observer Dilip Tirkey.
The 9-a-side format features nine players per side and is played on the normal dimension field but with changes like an additional one metre wider goal and a player in the attacking half at all times.
There can be only two defenders besides the goalkeeper to stop penalty corners and there must not be more than four players from the attacking team for penalty corners. The attacking players have to stand outside the 23-metre line before they receive the push from the backline and the penalty corner must be executed within 25 seconds. However, in the case of long corners it is five players versus five. Again, the attackers have to be outside the 23-metre area.
If the scores are level after thirty minutes, the penalty shootout will be applicable, where the striker is allowed only eight seconds to score starting from the 23-metre line.
The match duration is thirty minutes with two halves of fifteen minutes each thus making it fast and furious with fitness and athleticism as the key.
India begin their tour against Australia 'A' Oct 17 and will then take on New Zealand the next day. The nine-a-side tournament, which is sanctioned by the International Hockey Federation (FIH), will be played in Perth Oct 20-23 and will also feature Pakistan, New Zealand and hosts Australia.
The tri-series, involving India, Pakistan and Australia, will be played at Busselton and Bunbury in Western Australia Oct 26-Nov 3.
Goalkeepers: Bharat Chetri (captain), P.R. Sreejesh;
Defenders: Manjit Kullu, Rupinderpal Singh, V.R. Raghunath, Sandeep Singh;
Midfielders: Ignace Tirkey (vice-captain), Gurbaj Singh, Vikas Sharma, Manpreet Singh, Vikram Pillay, Arjun Halappa, Sardar Singh;
Forwards: Danish Mujtaba, Ravi Pal, Sarvanjit Singh, Rajpal Singh, Yuvraj Valmiki, S.V. Sunil, Gurvinder Singh Chandi, Tushar Khandker, Bharat Chhikara
Standbys: Nanak Singh (goalkeeper), Birendra Lakra (midfielder), Mandip Antil (forward), Chinglingsana (forward), Roshan Minz (forward)
Warm-up matches: India vs. Australia 'A' (Oct 17); India vs. New Zealand (Oct 18)
Oct 20: India vs. New Zealand (two matches)
Oct 21: India vs. Pakistan (two matches)
Oct 22: India vs. Australia (two Matches)
Oct 23: Final and 3/4 Place
Oct 26: India vs. Australia (Busselton)
Oct 27: India vs. Pakistan (Busselton)
Oct 31: India vs. Australia (Bunbury)
Nov 1: India vs. Pakistan (Bunbury)
Nov 3: Final