Sep 27, 2015

India to tour New Zealand to prepare for Hockey World League Finals

Raghunath among four penalty corners selected

Indian senior men team will leave for New Zealand tomorrow to take part in 6 match test series to prepare for Hockey World League finals and Rio Olympics to be played next year. The team will be led by midfielder Sardar Singh while goalkeeper P R Sreejesh is named as vice captain for the tour. Midfielder Manpreet Singh and Dharamvir Singh who missed India's European tour due to injury have returned to the side. 

Danish Mujtaba, Talwinder Singh and Mohd Amir Khan who played in European tour have been left out of the squad. Nikkin Thimmiah has been roped in to replace Mohd Amir Khan in the squad. India will play two test match against New Zealand A team while will face New Zealand senior team in 4 match series. 

Return of Dharamvir Singh will give Indian midfield some respite in the absence of Gurbaj Singh who has been handed nine month ban due to his behavioural issues. Dharamvir Singh used to combine well with SV Sunil and Gurbaj Singh and his return to the squad will add some zing to the right flank. 

Indian team management is trying to find out its best combination before the Olympics and so have gone with 4 penalty corner experts in the side. Raghunath, Rupinder, Gurjinder and Jasjit Kular are the four penalty corners India has gone on with. Penalty corners have been a cause of concern for Indian team as their conversion rate has fallen drastically since the axing of Sandeep Singh after London Olympics.

India will play four Test matches against the Black Sticks on October 6, 7 (both in Nelson), 9 and 11 (both in Christchurch). They will also play two practice games on October 2 and 3 against New Zealand A in Auckland.

Following is the Indian team for New Zealand tour:

Goalkeepers: PR Sreejesh (vice-captain), Harjot Singh. 

Defenders: Birendra Lakra, Kothajit Singh, VR Raghunath, Jasjit Singh Kular, Rupinder Pal Singh, Gurjinder Singh. 

Midfielders: Sardar Singh (captain), Chinglensana Singh, SK Uthappa, Satbir Singh, Devinder Walmiki, Manpreet Singh, Dharamvir Singh. 

Forwards: SV Sunil, Ramandeep Singh, Akashdeep Singh, Mandeep Singh, Lalit Upadhyay, Nikkin Thimmaiah.

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