Forward Rani Rampal was Friday named as the captain of India’s 18-member squad for the women’s hockey World Cup to be played in London in July. Hockey India on Friday announced the 18-member Indian women’s team for the prestigious tournament which is slated to begin on July 21. India have been placed in Pool B along side hosts and world no. 2 England, world no. 7 USA and world no. 16 Ireland. While experienced Rani will lead the team, goalkeeper Savita has been named as her deputy.
The tournament will also witness the return of goalkeeper Rajani Etimarpu after having rested for the Spain Tour. India’s defence will consist of Sunita Lakra, Deep Grace Ekka, Deepika, drag-flicker Gurjit Kaur and youngster Reena Khokhar who makes a comeback into the team. In the midfield, Namita Toppo, Lilima Minz, Monika, Neha Goyal, Navjot Kaur and Nikki Pradhan will hold fort.
Skipper Rani returned to the team during their Spain Tour and will again be leading her team’s forward-line. The ace-striker will be linking up with the experienced Vandana Katariya while Navneet Kaur, Lalremsiami and Udita will also provide them support in attack. “It was not an easy decision to select the 18-member team as all the core probables have worked really hard in the national camp. However, we feel that this 18-member team will be the best mixture to be successful at the Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup London 2018,” said chief coach Sjoerd Marijne.
On the team’s balance, the Dutchman said, “We have a good blend of experience and youth in the team. The recent Spain Tour has given the team great confidence to do well at the World Cup. Our focus is on the first match against England. “In order to reach our first goal of qualifying for the quarterfinals, we can only think about the first match against the hosts and the team is excited and confident of starting well against them,” he added.
Indian women’s team: Goalkeepers: Savita (Vice-Captain), Rajani Etimarpu Defenders: Sunita Lakra, Deep Grace Ekka, Deepika, Gurjit Kaur, Reena Khokhar Midfielders: Namita Toppo, Lilima Minz, Monika, Neha Goyal, Navjot Kaur, Nikki Pradhan Forwards: Rani (Captain), Vandana Katariya, Navneet Kaur, Lalremsiami, Udita