Indian women’s hockey team will kickstart their World Hockey League campaign against hosts South Africa on July 8. Striker Rani Rampal will lead an 18-member squad. After starting the new season on a high note with a series of wins in the Asian Champions Trophy last year, women hockey team defeated Belarus 5-0 and went on to win the World League Round 2 in Canada.
However, the Indian eves suffered a 0-5 whitewash against New Zealand, where a series win could have helped them secure a berth in the Women’s World Cup.
Grouped in Pool B along with the United States of America, South Africa, Chile and Argentina, the Rani Rampal-led side faces a tough task in the group stages.
Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam, who will lead India’s defence, has been named as the vice-captain for the tournament. India’s defensive line comprises of Deep Grace Ekka, Sunita Lakra, Monika, Sushila and Gurjit Kaur.
Former Captain Ritu Rani with Lilima Minz, Navjot Kaur, Renuka Yadav, Nikki Pradhan and Namita Toppo are the midfielders in the Indian squad.
“While our first aim is to do well in the pool stage and do well against opponents like South Africa and Argentina, our big target is to qualify for the World Cup next year. Though the qualifying criteria is top five teams, since England are the hosts, our criteria will be to finish in top 6 to qualify for the World Cup,” said chief coach Sjoerd Marijne.
Group A comprises of Germany, England, Ireland, Japan and Poland.
Goalkeepers: Savita, Rajani Etimarpu.
Defenders: Deep Grace Ekka, Sunita Lakra, Gurjit Kaur, Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam (vice-captain), Monika.
Midfielders: Renuka Yadav, Nikki Pradhan, Namita Toppo, Navjot Kaur, Ritu Rani, Lilima Minz.
Forwards: Reena Khokhar, Rani Rampal (captain), Vandana Katariya, Anupa Barla, Preeti Dubey.