New-look India for European tour

New-look India for European tour

New-look India for European tour

Head coach Roelant Oltmans has named a new-look Indian side for their upcoming tour of Belgium and the Netherlands, which gets underway on August 9.

The team led by midfielder Manpreet Singh features as many as six uncapped players. Chinglensana Singh, meanwhile, has been named as the vice-captain.

The six new faces include goalkeeper Suraj Karkera -- who was earlier picked for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup but missed the bus due to an injury — Varun Kumar, Dipsan Tirkey, Nilakanta Sharma, Gurjant Singh and Armaan Qureshi.

The tour will also see India try out a new combination in their penalty corner department with regulars like Harmanpreet Singh and Rupinderpal Singh missing from the side. While the young Harmanpreet has been given a much needed rest, Rupinder is recovering from an hamstring injury that ruled him out of the World League Semifinals in London las month.

The onus will now be on the Dipsan and Varun. The duo were an integral part of the Indian junior side that won the World Cup last year. Talented defender and drag-flicker Amit Rohidas, who had an outstanding season with 2017 Hockey India League winners Kalinga Lancers, too is another option from the set piece.

In the middle though there are a few regular names in Manpreet, Harjeet Singh and SK Uthappa. It will be interesting to see how Nilakanta fits into this mix.

Up front Gurjant and Qureshi will look to make the most of the opportunity when they rub shoulders against a few top players in the world on the tour.

Speaking on his squad selection for the tour, Oltmans stated that the changes were in tune with the idea of testing the players in the core group and to giving them the exposure in this new Olympic cycle.

“The team has been training here where we have been working on improving our counter control and defence apart from working on variations that can improve our goal scoring,” said the Dutch tactician.

“It is important for the youngsters to face top teams like the Netherlands and Belgium early in their career which will undoubtedly benefit our long-term goals,” he added.

India is scheduled to play five matches on their Europe tour and will leave for the assignment on August 5.

Squad: Goalkeepers: Akash Chikte, Suraj Karkera; Defenders: Dipsan Tirkey, Kothajit Singh, Gurinder Singh, Amit Rohidas, Varun Kumar; Midfielders: SK Uthappa, Harjeet Singh Manpreet Singh (captain), Chinglensana Singh (vice-captain) Sumit, Nilakanta Sharma; Forwards: Mandeep Singh, Ramandeep Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Gurjant Singh, Armaan Qureshi.

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