New Delhi: Star striker Rani Rampal on Tuesday returned to the national side after a lengthy injury lay-off as India on Tuesday named a 22-member women’s hockey squad for the upcoming FIH Pro League tie against world no 1 Netherlands.
The squad also includes two new faces in midfielder Mahima Choudhary and striker Aishwarya Rajesh Chavan, who will make their senior team debut in the double leg tie to be held at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Friday and Saturday. Rani, who led India to a historic fourth place finish in the Olympics last year, has not played for the national team since the Tokyo Games due to several injuries, mainly hamstring problem.
Since then Rani has been undergoing rehabilitation at the SAI south centre in Bengaluru but she is now fit to take the field again.
Goalkeeper Savita will continue to lead India and will be assisted by Deep Grace Ekka.
India, though, will be without the services of Tokyo Olympians Salima Tete, Sharmila Devi and Lalremsiami who are representing India in the Junior Women’s World Cup in South Africa.
The national selectors also named three standby players — Upasana Singh, Preeti Dubey and Olympian Vandana Katariya.
“It’s great to be back on the field for our Hockey Pro League games vs the Netherlands after the disappointment of England not being able to visit. With our juniors playing the World Cup we have the chance to use the depth of our core group and I am excited to potentially see some new faces on the field,” chief coach Janneke Schopman said.
“Rani has also worked hard to be back in contention and if this training week goes well I hope we can play her in one of the games.” The coach said India would look to take confidence from their performance against Germany in the previous tie.
“Netherlands is a formidable opponent, they have shown last weekend against the USA that they score goals easily and play from a tight defence.
“We are looking to build on our own performance since our last games vs Germany and am excited to hopefully show our progress against a strong opponent,” Schopman said.
The Indian women’s team is currently placed fourth in the FIH Pro League standings with 12 points from six games.
Netherlands, on the other hand, are atop the table with 17 points from six matches.
Goalkeepers: Savita (captain), Rajani Etimarpu.
Defenders: Deep Grace Ekka (vice-captain), Gurjit Kaur, Nikki Pradhan, Udita, Rashmita Minz, Suman Devi Thoudam.
Midfielders: Nisha, Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam, Jyoti, Navjot Kaur, Monika, Namita Toppa, Sonika, Neha, Mahima Choudhary.
Forwards: Aishwarya Rajesh Chavan, Navneet Kaur, Rajwinder Kaur, Rani Rampal, Mariana Kujur.
Standbys: Upasana Singh, Preeti Dubey, Vandana Katariya.