Hockey News: Indian squad for men's World Cup - Harmanpreet Singh named captain

    The Indian team have high hopes for the World Cup after their delightful performance at the Tokyo Olympics and Hockey India (HI) has listed an 18-member squad that would participate in the quadrennial event.

    Hockey India announced an 18-member Indian squad for the FIH men's World Cup. Hockey India announced an 18-member Indian squad for the FIH men's World Cup.

    It's been 48 years since India won the World Cup, and now, with primary drag-flicker Harmanpreet Singh at the helm, could change that. 

    He first appeared as the captain during the Pro League in October-November. This time, he was picked by chief coach Graham Reid and the selection panel to lead the sixth-ranked team at the January 13-29 World Cup.

    <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Warm Welcome Team India! Hockey India has announced the 18-member squad for the upcoming FIH Odisha Men&#39;s <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#hockeyworldcup2023</a> in Bhubaneswar - Rourkela. Captained by Harmanpreet Singh &amp; with Odia boy Amit Rohidas as vice-captain. <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Rourkela Municipal Corporation (@RourkelaMC) <a href="">December 23, 2022</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

    Manpreet Singh captained the team that won an Olympic medal after 41 years in Tokyo. Defender Amit Rohidas replaced him during the 2021-22 Pro League, and then he returned as a skipper at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games in July-August. 

    India won a silver medal there after enduring a 0-7 loss to Australia in the final. Rohidas has been named Harmanpreet's deputy in Odisha. Thirteen of the 19 players who participated in Tokyo are playing at the World Cup.

    The likes of Sumit, Gurjant Singh, and Dilpreet Singh were left out. Meanwhile, Simrajeet Singh was absent from the camp and Rupinder Pal Singh and Birendra Lakra have retired.

    Goalkeeper Sreejesh will compete in his fourth World Cup and third on home ground. India's midfield will be ornamented by Prasad, who had to skip the recent Australia tour and the Pro League matches against New Zealand and Spain after sustaining an injury. 

    Players like Akashdeep Singh, Nilam Sanjeep Xess, Jarmanpreet Singh, Abhishek and Sukhjeet Singh, who didn't play in Tokyo, are determined to leave a mark. 

    Forward Akashdeep was in shambles when he wasn't selected for Tokyo, but the 28-year-old was terrific in the Test series against Australia, having scored four goals in three games, including a hat-trick.

    Jarmanpreet Singh and Nilam Sanjeep Xess have been consistent after the Olympics, especially in Asia Cup, Pro Leagues, and Test series versus Australia. Abhishek and Sukhjeet, after making their debut not too long ago, have only grown as players.

    Abhishek netted in his second international against South Africa in February, and Sukhjeet scored on his debut against France the same month.

    "A home World Cup puts extra importance and pressure on this event like no other," said Reid.

    "Every country chooses the best team they believe is available to them at the time and tries to provide their team with the best preparation they can. We have also tried to do both with the selection of our Indian World Cup team."

    Rajkumar Pal and drag-flicker Jugraj Singh are named alternate players, a relatively new concept introduced by the international hockey federation (FIH) after the Covid-19 pandemic.

    What to expect from India at the 2023 Men's Hockey World Cup?

    India are in Pool D with fifth-ranked England, number eight Spain and 15 Wales. They will open their campaign on January 13 against Spain at the newly constructed Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium. 

    The Rourkela-based stadium is the biggest in India, with a capacity of 20,000 spectators. India will face England on January 15 before they move to Bhubaneswar to compete against Wales on January 19. 

    The knockouts will kick off in Bhubaneshwar in crossover matches on January 22 and 23. The quarter-finals will take place on January 24 and 25. The semi-finals will be hosted on January 27, and the final match will occur on January 29.

    India's squad

    Goalkeepers: Krishan Bahadur Pathak, PR Sreejesh

    Defenders: Surender Kumar, Jarmanpreet Singh, Harmanpreet Singh (captain), Amit Rohidas (vice-captain), Varun Kumar, Nilam Sanjeep Xess

    Midfielders: Manpreet Singh, Nilakanta Sharma, Hardik Singh, Shamsher Singh, Akashdeep Singh, Vivek Sagar Prasad

    Forwards: Mandeep Singh, Abhishek, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Sukhjeet Singh

    Alternate players: Rajkumar Pal, Jugraj Singh