New Delhi, July 9:
The Indian women’s hockey team left for Edinburgh from here Wednesday morning to take part in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games to be held from July 23 to Aug 3.
The team appears full of confidence after their recent 6-0 clean sweep over Malaysia in a bilateral series in the south east Asian nation. The tournament will see a total of 10 teams divided into two groups.
India are placed along with Canada, New Zealand, Trinidad & Tobago and South Africa in Group A while Scotland, Australia, England, Malaysia and Wales are in Group B. The top two sides from both groups will proceed to the semifinals.
India will take on Canada July 24 in the opener, followed by New Zealand (July 27), Trinidad & Tobago (July 28) and South Africa (July 30).
The 16-member team is captained by midfielder Ritu Rani, who has 179 caps, while defender Deepika, with 126 caps, is the vice-captain. They had been practising in Patiala during their preparatory camp and will be continuing their training in Edinburgh and Glasgow.
“The preparatory camp went really well and the Malaysian tour was a big boost for the team. The players are getting better with their possession but we have to look out for the fact that ‘where we turn the ball’ should be worked upon more. The challenging part will be to make it in the top-2 and this time we are positive to make it to the semi-finals,” chief coach Neil Hawgood said.
The skipper said the team is getting better with time and they are quite positive about reaching the last four.
“The team is showing major signs of improvement and is well in rhythm as we underwent plenty of training camps including the Malaysian tour, keeping the team well in shape,” said Ritu.
“The success of the Malaysian tour is definitely a plus point as the junior team members are motivated more than ever and will help them gain experience to take on bigger challenges. Last time, we could not make it to the semi-finals but this year we are looking at a podium finish and are positive about doing so.”
On the four occasions when hockey has been part of CWG, the Indian women’s team came out champions once in 2002 and finished runners-up in 2006, their only two medal-winning performances.
Goalkeeper: Savita (79 Caps)
Defenders: Deep Grace Ekka (57 Caps), Deepika (126 Caps), Kirandeep Kaur (139 Caps), Namita Toppo (46 Caps), Jaspreet Kaur (57 Caps).
Midfielders: Ritu Rani (179 Caps), Sushila Chanu (71 Caps), Lilima Minz (28 Caps), Vandana Katariya (99 Caps), Navjot Kaur (22 Caps).
Forwards: Rani (111 Caps), Poonam Rani (113 Caps), Ritusha Arya (15 Caps), Anupa Barla (33 Caps), Anuradha Devi (62 Caps).