Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Indian World Cup squad announced: Gurbaj recalled, rookie Jasjit included, Yuvraj misses out


Ace midfielder Sardar Singh will lead the Indian senior men’s hockey team in the 2014 Rabobank World Cup beginning in The Hague, Netherlands from May 31. The 18-member squad features a few surprises. Midfielder Gurbaj Singh, who last donned the national jersey at the 2012 London Olympics, came into the national reckoning on the back of a robust HIL showing for Delhi Waveriders.

It may be recalled that the selectors had also picked the Punjab Police DSP in the national fold for the recent Dutch exposure trip. The biggest notice-grabber was the inclusion of midfielder Jasjit Singh, who is set to make his senior international debut. Drag-flicker Rupinder Pal Singh will be Sardar’s deputy for the marquee event.
Experienced fullback Sandeep Singh failed to make the cut as Rupinder and Vokkaliga Raghunath are the only two drag-flickers picked in the side. Even young drag-flicker Gurjinder Singh missed the bus.
The team is high on experience with as many as four players – Sardar, SV Sunil, Gurbaj and Raghunath – having played more than hundred internationals, with three players – Sreejesh, Manpreet Singh and Rupinder close to making hundred international appearances.
 The selectors have included two goalkeepers – PR Sreejesh and Harjot Singh – the latter had a fantastic HIL for debutants Kalinga Lancers. The team’s defence will be manned by Kothajit Singh and Birendra Lakra besides the two ‘Rs’ and Gurbaj.
Skipper Sardar will control the midfield along with Manpreet Singh, Jasjit and SK Uthappa, who has shunned his natural forward position.
SV Sunil will spearhead the forwardline and will be complemented by Dharmvir Singh, Ramandeep Singh (2014 HIL’s most expensive player), Nikkin Thimmaiah, Akashdeep Singh and Mandeep Singh.
Mumbai lad Yuvraj Walmiki failed to find a spot in the squad, but is among the seven standbys. His brother Devinder also features in the standbys’ list. Danish Mujtaba, who is making a comeback after a long-standing injury, is also in the standbys' list.
The squad was handpicked following a two-day selection trials (on May 5 and 6) by chief hockey selector B.P Govinda, selector Arjun Halappa, High Performance Director Roelant Oltmans and Chief Coach Terry Walsh after 33 probables went through the paces during the two-phase camp.
 The squad:Goalkeepers: P.R Sreejesh, Harjot Singh; Defenders: Gurbaj Singh, Rupinder Pal Singh (vice-captain), VR Raghunath, Birendra Lakra, Kothajit Singh Khadangbam, Manpreet Singh; Midfielder: Sardar Singh (captain), SK Uthappa, Dharamvir Singh, Jasjit Singh, Chinglensana Singh; Forward: SV Sunil, Ramandeep Singh, Akashdeep Singh,  Nikkin Thimmaiah, Mandeep Singh.
Standbys: Gurpreet Singh, Vikram Kanth, Gurinder Singh, Danish Mujtaba, Devindar Walmiki, Lalit Upadhyay, Yuvraj Walmiki.

 ((The writer can be contacted at: suhridbarua@gmail.com)

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