FIH Women's Hockey Pro League | Savita to lead India in absence of Rani Rampal, in tie against Spain

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A file image of Savita Punia.


FIH Women's Hockey Pro League | Savita to lead India in absence of Rani Rampal, in tie against Spain

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SportsCafe Desk


Savita Punia was selected captain of the 22-member Indian squad on Monday, ahead of their FIH Women's Hockey Pro League match against Spain in Bhubaneswar. In the two-leg contest against Spain on February 26 and 27, Savita will lead the side in the absence of Rani Rampal, the regular captain.

Deep Grace Ekka, a defender, will be her deputy. Last month, the Indian ladies finished third in the Asia Cup in Muscat, Oman, under Savita's supervision. Sangita Kumari, a young Jharkhand forward who will make her debut next weekend, will be a fresh face in the 22-member team.

Savita, Rajani Etimarpu, and newcomer Bichu Devi Khairbam make up the team's goalkeeping contingent. The Indian team has recruited four players from the Asia Cup squad. Defender Ishika Chaudhary, midfielder Namita Toppo, and striker combination Sangita and Rajwinder Kaur are the other three extra players. For the double-header, Hockey India has nominated five stand-by players: Rashmita Minz, Akshata Abaso Dhekale, Sonika, Mariana Kujur, and Aishwarya Rajesh Chauvan.

Commenting on the team, chief coach Janneke Schopman said: "We are excited to kick off our home Pro League games vs Spain. We had two good training weeks after our return from Oman and I believe the selected 22 players will be ready to show what they can against Spain. When you have a strong pool of players, team selection always becomes difficult, but I am happy to see that the new players are improving a lot and showing a lot of promise."

India will have to be on their toes to beat Spain in its FIH Pro League opener, according to Schopman. "Spain is a strong opponent, they have consistently performed at a high level only narrowly missing out on the semi-finals in Tokyo and clinching the bronze medal in the last World Cup. "They are very skilful and play from a tight defence, so we are looking to use our own speed and skills and strong defence to compete well against them."

The team for the league is as follows:

Goalkeepers: Savita (Captain), Bichu Devi Kharibam, Rajani Etimarpu

Defenders: Deep Grace Ekka (Vice-captain), Gurjit Kaur, Nikki Pradhan, Udita, Ishika Chaudhary

Midfielders: Nisha, Salima Tete, Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam, Jyoti, Monika, Neha, Navjot Kaur, Namita Toppo. 

Forwards: Vandana Katariya, Sharmila Devi, Navneet Kaur, Lalremsiami, Sangita Kumari, Rajwinder Kaur

Standbys: Rashmita Minz, Akshata Abaso Dhekale, Sonika, Mariana Kujur, Aishwarya Rajesh Chavan

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