Rani Rampal, the ace striker, will play the skipper’s role of the Indian women hockey team in the Commonwealth games in Gold Coast and goalkeeper Savita will perform the duty of vice-captain, Hockey India said today. India is grouped in Pool A and will start their campaign on April 5 against Wales.
The much-awaited Commonwealth event is scheduled to begin on April 4, and apart from Wales, under the captaincy of Rani Rampal, the team will face Malaysia, England, and South Africa in their group.
The 27-year-old Savita is making a return to the squad as she was rested for the recently concluded tour of South Africa.
"We go into the tournament in good form after winning the series in South Korea and while we have only finished fifth in the two previous occasions, this time we will look to finish on the podium," the 23-year-old Rampal said as quoted by PTI.
"We have a great set of players with a mixture of experience and youth. The team's hunger to win will certainly be a key factor in us performing well at the Games.”
The defense seems strong with the presence of experienced players like Deepika, Sunita Lakra, Deep Grace Ekka, Gurjit Kaur and Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam. The responsibility in the midfield will be taken by Monika, Namita Toppo, Nikki Pradhan, Neha Goyal, and Lilima Minz. Rampal, Vandana Katariya, Lalremsiami, Navjot Kaur, Navneet Kaur, and Poonam Rani will strengthen India’s attack.
Currently, India’s ranking in the world is 10th and in the tournament, they will face strong competition from higher ranked teams like World No. 2 England, World No. 4 New Zealand, and World No. 5 hosts Australia.
The Indian women’s hockey team won the gold medal in the 2002 Commonwealth Games in England after defeating the English team in the final. In the 2006 Commonwealth games, which was organized in Australia, the team bagged the silver medal.
Chief Coach of the team Harendra Singh hoped for a good performance from the side and believed the team can do better and they have the ability to cause upsets.
“We have played with the same set of players for a long period so the players have formed a great understanding among themselves which was evident during our 2017 Asia Cup triumph," chief coach Harendra Singh said.
"The team also performed well in South Korea to beat a higher-ranked side and we will be looking to cause a few upsets and aim for the podium as the morale is high going into the prestigious Gold Coast 2018 XXI Commonwealth Games.”
Squad:Goalkeepers: Savita (VC), Rajani Etimarpu
Defenders: Deepika, Sunita Lakra, Deep Grace Ekka, Gurjit Kaur, Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam.
Midfielders: Monika, Namita Toppo, Nikki Pradhan, Neha Goyal, Lilima Minz.
Forwards: Rani (C), Vandana Katariya, Lalremsiami, Navjot Kaur, Navneet Kaur, Poonam Rani.