New Delhi, May 14 :
A fit Gurbaj Singh made a comeback while talented midfielder Jasjeet Singh will be making his debut for India in the FIH World Cup to be held in The Hague, Netherlands, May 31-June 15.
The 18-member India squad, along with seven stand-byes, was announced by Hockey India (HI) here Wednesday following selection trials May 5-6 at the Major Dhyanchand National Hockey Stadium here.
Sardar Singh has been named the captain and drag-flicker Rupinder Pal Singh will be his deputy.
Gurbaj, a defender, is making his comeback into the side after nearly two years. Gurbaj, who is the second most capped India player after Sardar, last played in the 2012 London Olympics. He was also a part of the victorious 2007 Asia Cup squad. V.R. Raghunath, Birendra Lakra, Kothajit Singh Khadangbam and Manpreet Singh are the other defenders.
The mid-fielders along with Sardar are S.K. Uthappa, Dharamvir Singh, Jasjit Singh and Chinglensana Singh. The forwards are S.V. Sunil, Ramandeep Singh, Akashdeep Singh, Nikkin Thimmaiah and Mandeep Singh.
Sardar said he was honoured to lead the team in his second World Cup.
“We have the world’s best coaches who have trained us hard both physically and mentally to put up a good show and deliver better results in the matches. Each member of the team is confident of performing well and live upto the expectations of everyone,” he said.
High performance director Roelant Oltmans said it would be unrealistic to hope that India, whose only triumph came in 1975, would win the tournament but guaranteed that the boys will give a tough fight.
“Probably this year (to win the World Cup) is too early. But I know these boys will give their best for this tournament,” he said.
Head coach Terry Walsh said a major area of focus during training was on physiological improvement and identification of the key playing concepts.
“We believe we can produce the most powerful performance with appropriate implementation. The World Cup in Holland is a huge challenge for us and we as a team of players and support staff are really excited with the opportunities ahead. Nothing will be easy, we know that. We are excited about being measured alongside the world’s best,” he said.
India are in Pool A along with Australia, Belgium, England, Spain and Malaysia. They open their campaign against Belgium, May 31. Indi will leave for The Hague, May 21.
Goalkeepers: P.R Sreejesh (94 caps), Harjot Singh (4)
Defenders: Gurbaj Singh (158), Rupinder Pal Singh (83), V.R Raghunath (154), Birendra Lakra (65), Kothajit Singh Khadangbam (65), Manpreet Singh (91)
Midfielder: Sardar Singh (180), S.K Uthappa (48), Dharamvir Singh (69), Jasjit Singh, Chinglensana Singh (46)
Forward: S.V Sunil (131), Ramandeep Singh (11), Akashdeep Singh (35), Nikkin Thimmaiah (11), Mandeep Singh (34).