Experienced defender Gurbaj Singh made a comeback to the Indian hockey team after almost two years while young mid-fielder Jasjit Singh also looked set for his international debut after being named in the 18-man squad for the World Cup in the Netherlands from May 31.
The team will be led by star mid-fielder Sardar Singh with fullback Rupinder Singh as his deputy.
Forward Yuvraj Walmiki and mid-fielder Danish Mujtaba were dropped from the team announced here, coinciding with the felicitation of 16 players who won the 1975 World Cup.
Gurbaj, 25, had last represented India in the 2012 London Olympic Games and is back after a good showing for Delhi Waveriders in the Hockey India League. The player, having 158 caps, was also part of the 2007 Asia Cup winning squad in Chennai.
Talented Jasjit, who played for Uttar Pradesh Wizards in the last HIL, has been given an opportunity to make his international debut.
“It is the biggest day of my life. I won’t say I was sure of getting into the team but I had received positive feedback from coaches (including head coach Terry Walsh) during the recent camp. As the other teams have not seen me play, I hope I am able to surprise them,” Jasjit told PTI.
PR Sreejesh and Harjot Singh are the chosen goalkeepers with Rupinder, VR Raghunath, Birendra Lakra, Kothajit Singh Khadangbam and Manpreet Singh adding strength to the defence.
The team will be taking off for The Hague on May 21.
India are placed in a tough Pool A alongside Australia, Belgium, England, Spain and Malaysia and will compete against Belgium in their first match to take place May 31.
The final squad has been chosen from the 33 probables picked two months ago.
“The squad has been picked on the basis of ability, the players who are capable of performing at the highest level. There is time left before we become a top team but you will see a much improved team that what you saw in the Hockey World League Final in January. I can’t complain about the effort the guys have put in preparation,” Walsh, who has a set top-8 target for the mega event, told PTI.
India had finished eighth in the last edition which took place in Delhi four years ago.
The team has been preparing here after returning from the Europe trip last month. Defender Manpreet Singh said the players have felt the improvement in their game in the last few months.
“Walsh has been working mainly on players’ rotation in the midfield. Another aspect he has worked on extensively is varying the pace of the game,” he said.
Team: Captain – Sardar Singh, Goalkeepers – PR Sreejesh and Harjot Singh, Defenders – Gurbaj Singh, Rupinder Pal Singh, VR Raghunath, Birendra Lakra, Kothajit Singh Khadangbam and Manpreet Singh, Midfielders – SK Uthappa, Dharamvir Singh, Jasjit Singh and Chinglensana Singh, Forward – SV Sunil, Ramandeep Singh, Akashdeep Singh, Nikkin Thimmaiah and Mandeep Singh.
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