IMAGE: Amit Rohidas (left) will continue to lead the Indian team at the FIH Pro League. Photograph: BCCI
Olympic medal-winning defender Amit Rohidas will continue to lead the Indian men’s hockey team in the crucial last leg of the 2021-22 edition of the FIH Pro League in Belgium and the Netherlands, next month.
India are leading the FIH Pro League standings with 27 points from 12 games, three ahead of Argentina and the Tokyo Olympic bronze medallist will look to utilise the four matches to extend their domination and also get much needed match practice ahead of the Birmingham Commonwealth Games.
India will play world no. 2 Belgium on June 11 and 12 in Antwerp before facing the Netherlands on June 18 and 19 in Rotterdam.
As has been the case in the last two legs at home, star drag-flicker Harmanpreet Singh will be Rohidas’ deputy.
There are no big surprises in the squad as the Indian team management continues to test various combination from the core group in the Pro League ties ahead of a busy calendar year, which includes the CWG and the World Cup next year.
Goalkeeper Kishan Bahadur Pathak has made way for Suraj Karkera as he has sustained an injury at the last minute.
In the backline, there is only one change from the last Pro League squad with Gurinder Singh, who will lead India in the inaugural FIH Hockey 5s in Lausanne on June 5 and 6, missing out.
Surender Kumar, Harmanpreet, Varun Kumar, Rohidas, Jugraj Singh and Jarmanpreet Singh make up for the rest of the defensive line-up.
Barring the exclusion of Moirangthem Rabichandra Singh and transfer of Akashdeep Singh from the forwardline, the midfield remains the same featuring experienced Manpreet Singh, Hardik Singh, Shamsher Singh, Vivek Sagar Prasad,and Nilakanta Sharma.
Gurjant Singh has come in place of Dilpreet Singh, who is part of the Hockey 5s squad, in the forwardline, which includes Mandeep Singh, Shilanand Lakra, Sukhjeet Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay and Abhishek.
Speaking about the team combination, India’s chief coach Graham Reid said, “This is the most important stage of the FIH Hockey Pro League with matches against the top teams of the world at their home ground. The plan is to carry forward our momentum from the home games in India.”
“…we continue to introspect our performance in the league so far and are focused on putting up an improved performance in Europe. The team continues to remain more or less the same with no major changes.”
The Indian team had beaten South Africa in the double header (10-2, 10-2), while they won one and lose one against France (5-0, 2-5).
At home, India won one and lost one game to Spain (5-4, 3-5) apart from winning 4-3 and losing 2-2 (1-3 SO) to Argentina. Recently, the team won both of its games against England, 3-3 (3-2 SO), and 4-3.
In their last two matches, India defeated Germany 3-0 and 3-1 in the double-leg matches.
Goalkeepers: Suraj Karkera, Sreejesh Parattu Raveendran
Defenders: Surender Kumar, Harmanpreet Singh (Vice-Captain), Varun Kumar, Amit Rohidas (Captain), Jugraj Singh, Jarmanpreet Singh
Midfielders: Manpreet Singh, Hardik Singh, Shamsher Singh, Vivek Sagar Prasad, Akashdeep Singh, Nilakanta Sharma
Forwards: Gurjant Singh, Mandeep Singh, Shilanand Lakra, Sukhjeet Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Abhishek.