VR Raghunath Rested, Birendra Lakra Returns to Hockey Squad For Asian Champions Trophy
VR Raghunath, who has been one of Indian hockey team's chief dragflickers, has been rested for the Asian Champions Trophy to be played in Malaysia in October. Pakistan are the defending champions
Indian hockey team's main dragflicker VR Raghunath has been rested for the Asian Champions Trophy to be played in Kuantan, Malaysia from October 20. PR Sreejesh will lead the 18-member squad. Manpreet Singh will be his deputy.
Defender Jasjit Singh Kular, from India's hockey hub Sansarpur, finds himself in the squad and will be expected to double-up as drag flicker in place of the veteran star Raghunath.
India have made a few changes in the squad that did duty in the Rio Olympics. While defender Birendra Lakra is making a comeback after injury, the national hockey selectors have dropped strikers Akashdeep Singh and Ramandeep Singh. The duo will be replaced by Talwinder Singh and Lalit Kumar Upadhyay.
The men's Asian Champions Trophy hockey competition will see India, Korea, Japan, China and hosts Malaysia challenge defending champions Pakistan.
"The Asian Champions Trophy is an important tournament for us and going by the world rankings, India will go in as favourites to win the title," said head coach Roelant Oltmans.
"The team has been upbeat since its return to the camp after the Olympic Games and are eager to start the season on a winning note," Oltmans added.
Sreejesh is cautious after India's Rio show.
"We may be the top ranked team in Asia right now but no team can be taken lightly. The defending champions (Pakistan) are known to spring a surprise and Korea too will be a team to watch out for as they have been playing good quality hockey lately," said the veteran goalkeeper.
Goalkeepers: P.R Sreejesh (captain), Akash Chikte
Defenders: Rupinder Pal Singh, Pardeep Mor, Jasjit Singh Kular, Birendra Lakra, Kothajit Singh, Surender Kumar
Midfielders: Chinglensana Singh Kangujam, Manpreet Singh (vice-captain), Sardar Singh, S.K. Uthappa, Devindar Walmiki
Forwards: Talwinder Singh, S.V Sunil, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Nikkin Thimmaiah, Affan Yousuf