Rejuvenated after a break, skipper and ace striker Rani Rampal on Friday returned to the 20-strong Indian women’s hockey team announced for the tour of Spain starting June 12. The Indian team will play a five-match series against the Spanish team as part of its build-up for the World Cup in July in London, Hockey India said in a press release.
The team will have goalkeeper Savita as vice-captain. Youngster Swati has been called up as the back-up goalkeeper for the tournament. Rani had been rested from the Asian Champions Trophy where India won a silver medal. India’s defence will see the return of experienced Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam. She will be joined by Sunita Lakra, Deep Grace Ekka, Suman Devi Thoudam, Deepika and drag-flicker Gurjit Kaur.
In the midfield, Namita Toppo, Lilima Minz, Monika, Neha Goyal, Navjot Kaur and Nikki Pradhan will hold fort. India’s forward-line will see skipper Rani return to action after being rested for the Asian Champions Trophy. Experienced forward Vandana Katariya, who was adjudged as the Player of The Tournament in Asian Champions Trophy, too has been included along with Navneet Kaur, Lalremsiami, Udita and Anupa Barla.
“Also, this tournament provides us a platform to fine-tune our game before the World Cup and the Asian Games in Jakarta,” said chief coach Sjoerd Marijne. “We will rotate players a lot during this tour because as much as getting good matches ahead of the important tournament like the World Cup is essential, keeping the players fresh is also important,” he added.
Goalkeepers: Savita (VC), Swati Defenders: Sunita Lakra, Deep Grace Ekka, Suman Devi Thoudam, Deepika, Gurjit Kaur, Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam
Midfielders: Namita Toppo, Lilima Minz, Monika, Neha Goyal, Navjot Kaur, Nikki Pradhan
Forwards: Rani (C), Vandana Katariya, Navneet Kaur, Lalremsiami, Udita, Anupa Barla