In Rani’s absence, Savita will lead the Indian women in the FIH Pro League; New face of Sangita Kumari

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In Rani Rampal’s absence, Savita will continue to lead the team, while defender Deep Grace Ekka will be her assistant in the home and away game against Spain on February 26-27.

In Rani Rampal’s absence, Savita will continue to lead the team, while defender Deep Grace Ekka will be her assistant in the home and away game against Spain on February 26-27.

Veteran keeper Savita was named captain of India’s 22-member squad for the FIH Women’s Hockey Pro League tie against Spain in Bhubaneswar this month on February 21.

In the absence of Rani Rampal, who is still recovering from an injury in Bangalore, Savita will continue to lead the team, while defender Deep Grace Ekka will be his assistant in the away leg against Spain on 26 and February 27.

Under Savita’s guidance, the Indians finished third in the Asian Cup in Muscat, Oman last month.

The 22-member squad will have a new face in young Jharkhand striker Sangita Kumari, who will make his debut next weekend. The team has three goalkeepers in Savita, Rajani Etimarpu and Bichu Devi Khairbam who is an addition to the team. Four players have been added to India’s Asian Cup squad.

Apart from Bichu Devi, three other additional players are defender Ishika Chaudhary, midfielder Namita Toppo, forward duo Sangita and Rajwinder Kaur.

Hockey India coaches have also named five reserve players – Rashmita Minz, Akshata Abasso Dhekale, Sonika, Mariana Kujur and Aishwarya Rajesh Chauvan – for the double header.

Commenting on the squad, head coach Janneke Schopman said: “We are delighted to kick off our Pro League home games against Spain. We’ve had a good two weeks of training after returning from Oman and I think the 22 players selected will be ready to show what they can against Spain.

“When you have a strong pool of players, team selection always becomes difficult, but I’m happy to see the new players improving a lot and showing a lot of promise.” Schopman said India will have to be on their toes to get the better of Spain in their FIH Pro League draw.

“Spain are a tough opponent, they have always played at a high level, narrowly missing out on the semi-finals in Tokyo and winning the bronze medal at the last World Cup.

“They are very skilled and play from a tight defense, so we are looking to use our own speed, skill and solid defense to compete well against them.”

Team

Guardians: Savita (captain), Bichu Devi Kharibam, Rajani Etimarpu.

Defenders: Deep Grace Ekka (vice-captain), Gurjit Kaur, Nikki Pradhan, Udita, Ishika Chaudhary.

Midfielders: Nisha, Salima Tete, Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam, Jyoti, Monika, Neha, Navjot Kaur, Namita Toppo.

Forwards: Vandana Katariya, Sharmila Devi, Navneet Kaur, Lalremsiami, Sangita Kumari, Rajwinder Kaur.

Eve : Rashmita Minz, Akshata Abaso Dhekale, Sonika, Mariana Kujur, Aishwarya Rajesh Chavan.

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