Sunil, Rupinder dropped, Manpreet to lead India at World Cup

Hockey India on Thursday dropped senior players S.V. Sunil and Rupinder Pal Singh for the upcoming Hockey World Cup at home, beginning in Bhubneswar on November 28.
Experienced striker Sunil — who was recently undergoing rehabilitation for a knee injury, had joined the ongoing camp in Bhubneswar and had been declared fit — was a shock omission while drag-flicker Rupinder Pal has been out of favour since the Asian Games owing to poor form.
India will be led by midfielder Manpreet Singh and fellow medio Chinglensana Singh has been the vice-captain.
Overall, it’s a fairly young team with six members of the 2016 Junior World Cup winning team making the cut while youngster Hardik Singh has been rewarded for his decent show in the recent Asian Champions Trophy in Oman.
India though will clearly be short on experience in the 16-team extravaganza following the omission of Sunil and Rupinder. Long-standing captain and midfielder Sardar Singh had earlier announced retirement a month ago, paving the way for the youngsters.
Experienced goalkeeper Sreejesh P.R. will man the goal and will have Krishan Bahadur Pathak for company.
Defender Birendra Lakra returns from injury and will be the key man in defence along with drag-flicker Harmanpreet Singh, Amit Rohidas, Varun Kumar, Surender Kumar and Kothajit Singh.
Manpreet will be vital to the midfield and will have to marshall his troops well. He will be joined by vice-captain Chinglensana Singh. The midfield has a fairly young look with Sumit, Hardik and Nilakanta Sharma been given the nod.
In Sunil’s absence, forward Akashdeep Singh will have to lead the attack and along with Mandeep Singh, Lalit Upadhyay, Dilpreet Singh and Simranjeet Singh will form a part of the attack.
“We have chosen the best available combinations for the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018,” said coach Harendra. “We had to make some tough decisions to select 18 out of a very strong pool of 34 players. The final 18 are a mix of experienced and youth and have been selected on the basis of their current form and fitness. These players have consistently shown their potential in the lead up to the showpiece event and I am confident India will put up a fighting performance.”

Goalkeepers: PR Sreejesh, Krishan Bahadur Pathak 

DEFENDERS: Harmanpreet Singh, Birendra Lakra, Varun Kumar, Kothajit Singh, Surender Kumar, Amit Rohidas.

MIDFIELDERS: Manpreet Singh (captain), Chinglensana Singh, Nilakanta Sharma, Hardik Singh, Sumit      

FORWARDS: Akashdeep Singh, Mandeep Singh, Dilpreet Singh, Lalit Upadhyay, Simranjeet Singh.

Harpreet Kaur Lamba
New Delhi

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