Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Commonwealth Games: India hockey eves face Canada in tournament opener

This piece was published in Sportskeeda

The Ritu Rani-led Indian women’s hockey team should have it easy against Canada in their opening Pool A match of the Commonwealth Games at the Glasgow National Hockey Center in Glasgow on Thursday.

No complacency please
The 13th ranked Indian eves should not encounter serious resistance from the 22nd ranked Canadians, but would be better off in not letting any complacency creep into their system just because they are up against a lower ranked outfit.
The Blueskirts’ fortunes would revolve around the vastly experienced midfielder and skipper Ritu Rani and talented forward Rani Rampal (both of whom were part of the side that finished fifth in the 2010 New Delhi Commonwealth Games).

Enterprising strike forceThe Indian forwardline wears an enterprising look with the likes of Poonam Rani, Vandana Katariya and Anupa Barla more than capable of rising to the occasion and playing the second fiddle to Rampal.
Captain Ritu will look to lend solidity to the midfield alongside Sushila Chanu, Navjot Kaur and Lilima Minz, while the likes of vice-captain Deep Grace Ekka, Namita Toppo and Kirandeep Kaur will bid to blunt the opposition raids.

Head-to-headIndia have faced Canada only once in Commonwealth Games and had beaten them 1-0 in the 2002 edition in Manchester. Indian eves will face New Zealand, South Africa and Trinidad and Tobago in their other league games.
Manchester glory

It may be worth recalling that the Indian eves had scripted history when they won the gold medal at the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games beating England 3-2 in extra time in front of their home fans.

Indian women had finished fourth at the 1998 Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games, where hockey was introduced for the first time. India had bagged the silver medal at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games, losing to Australia by a solitary goal in the final showdown.

CWG Build-up
The Indians have warmed up nicely for the Commonwealth Games, whitewashing Malaysia 6-0 in a six Test series in Kuala Lumpur last month.

Squad: Goalkeepers: Savita; Defenders: Deep Grace Ekka, Deepika (vice-captain), Kirandeep Kaur, Namita Toppo, Jaspreet Kaur; Midfielders: Ritu Rani (captain), Sushila Chanu, Lilima Minz, Vandana Katariya, Navjot Kaur; Forwards: Rani,  Poonam Rani, Ritusha Arya, Anupa Barla and Anuradha Devi.

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