Hockey India on Tuesday named an 18-member women’s team for the upcoming Women’s Hockey World Cup in the Netherlands and Spain starting from 1st July to 17th July 2022. The Indian Eves are clubbed in Pool B alongwith England, New Zealand and China. Savita Punia’s girls will start their campaign on 3rd July against England. It will be a challenge for the Indian Women’s team as they will start the tournament against whom they lost the bronze medal match in last year’s Tokyo Olympics.
The only major concern for India is that captain Rani Rampaul is not fit enough to make it to the team so Savita Punia will continue to lead the side. It is surely a bow for the Indian team and their fans but that’s how it is as the youngster will have to step up their game to fill the void left by Rani.
The 20-member squad that is selected for the World Cup also includes two reserved players along with the 18 others. Savita Punia will look to put her best foot forward in the Indian goal as she will have Bichu Devi Kharibam as backup. The Indian team will have to defend a lot and for that they will need top performances from the veteran Deep Grace Ekka and penalty corner specialist Gurjit Kaur. Others include Nikki Pradhan and Udita Duhan among the defenders. In midfield players like Neha Goyal, Sushila Chanu, Salima Tete will play vital roles along with others like Nisha, Monika, Jyoti, Navjot Kaur and Sonika.
The forwardline has been India’s primary concern and the forwards have to step up in this tournament. Players like Vandana Katariya who have been with this Indian team for many years will have to be at their best. She will have support from players like Lalremsiami, Navneet Kaur, and Sharmila Devi. Two reserve players include talented youngsters, Akshata Abaso Dhekale and Sangita Kumari.
The Indian Women’s Hockey team coach Janneke Schopman feels that this team has the balance of youngsters and experienced players and have shown great promise against top teams. Speaking about the team selection, Schopman said, “We have chosen the best squad for the World Cup. It is a mix of experience and young talent who have shown great promise when they were given a chance against top teams in the FIH Pro League.”