hockey

Injured Sreejesh to miss Australia tour; Raghunath to lead

Raghunath-VR V.R. Raghunath | via Facebook

The Indian men's hockey team would follow their female counterparts to Australia for a four-nation tournament and a Test series, but would miss the services of talismanic goal-keeper P.R. Sreejesh.

Seasoned defender V.R. Raghunath would replace Sreejesh as captain while in-form drag flicker Rupinder Pal Singh would be the vice captain.

Injuries have also forced Ramandeep Singh and S.V. Sunil to miss this tour. The injured duo would be replaced by Nikkin Thimmaiah and Sardar Singh.

After India's successful campaign in the Asian Champions Trophy (ACT) where they beat rivals Pakistan in the final, the Indian hockey team would head Down Under for the tournament starting November 23 followed by a test series against hosts Australia.

The 'wall' Sreejesh is suffering from a knee injury-sustained during the penalty shootout at the semifinal against Korea at the Asian Champions Trophy. Forward Sunil is yet to recover from a wrist injury suffered during Rio Olympics. In any case, chief coach Roelant Oltmans has a rotation policy in place as far as leading the team goes.

India would use two different goal keepers on the two legs of the tour Down Under.

Akash Chikte, who was outstanding in the final of ACT, would be India's custodian in Melbourne where they play Malaysia and New Zealand. The second goal keeper would be Abhinav Kumar Pandey from Uttar Pradesh. "Abhinav has been in and out of the camps. He has had a knee injury for a while but has made a strong comeback and we are pleased with his performance in this camp," said chief coach Roelant Oltmans.

However, the injury would not keep Sreejesh totally out of action. While working on his rehab, the jovial goal keeper would also mentor junior team goalkeepers. "Both Sreejesh and Sunil will remain in SAI for rehabilitation. Also, Sreejesh has willingly stepped up to spend some time with the junior team goalkeepers. He has already starting working with them and will assist Dave Staniforth who is joining us next week. This is great for the young boys and sharing his experience with them will be valuable ahead of the Junior World Cup," said Oltmans, who would work with the junior team, while strategic coach Roger Van Gent would accompany the senior team to Australia.

Meanwhile, skipper Raghunath said the Australian tour would be challenging, but the team would take inspiration from its tour of 2014 Down Under. "The Asian Champions Trophy win has boosted the morale of the players and the team's spirit is high. However, playing in Australia is a different challenge and we are up for it. We have beaten Australia in their home earlier in 2014 Test series and look to repeat similar performance this time too," he said.

GOALKEEPERS

1. Abhinav Kumar Pandey

2. Akash Chikte

DEFENDERS

3. Rupinder Pal Singh (Vice Captain)

4. Pardeep Mor

5. VR Raghunath (Captain)

6. Birendra Lakra

7. Kothajit Singh

8. Surender Kumar

MIDFIELDERS

9. Chinglensana Singh Kangujam

10. Manpreet Singh

11. Sardar Singh

12. S.K Uthappa

FORWARDS

13. Talwinder Singh

14. Nikkin Thimmaiah

15. Affan Yousuf

16. Mohammad​ Amir Khan

​17. Satbir Singh

​18. Akashdeep Singh

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Topics : #Hockey

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