Chetri named captain as Sandeep, Sardara return for Oz tour
New Delhi: As part of a rotation policy, goalkeeper Bharat Chetri was on Monday named captain while the controversial duo of Sandeep Singh and Sardara Singh have been recalled to the Indian hockey team for the tour of Australia starting next month.
Veteran midfielder Ignace Tirkey has been appointed as Chetri`s deputy.
The 27-year-old custodian, who has 114 International caps to his credit, will replace Rajpal as the skipper and will lead the country for the first time in his career.
PR Sreejesh, who shot to limelight with his super show in the final of the inaugural Asian Champions Trophy against Pakistan, is the other goalkeeper in the 22-member squad.
During the tour of Australia, which will conclude on November 5, India will play a four-nation nine-a-side International Super Series tournament and another International tournament featuring Pakistan and the home team.
The squad was announced after a selection trails at the SAI centre in Bangalore on Monday, which was attended by Hockey India selectors BP Govinda, Syed Ali, Thoiba Singh and AB Subbaiah besides government observer Dilip Tirkey.
Among notable inclusions, both Sandeep and Sardara, who were handed a two-year ban by HI for indiscipline only to be lifted later, have found a place in the squad.
Former captain Arjun Halappa, who missed the Asian Champions Trophy in China due to a groin problem, also returned to the team along with Tushar Khandker and Bharat Chikara, who have also recovered from injuries.
Rajpal will continue to lead the forward line which also has the young Yuvraj Walimiki who retained his place by virtue of his impressive performance in China, Sarvanjit Singh, Gurvinder Singh Chandi and Danish Mujtaba among others.
The selectors have also named five stand-by players in Nanak Singh (goalkeeper), Birendra Lakra (midfielder), Mandip Antil (forward), Chinglingsana (forward) and Roshan Minz (forward).
One of the HI selectors, A B Subbiah later confirmed that Chetri`s appointment is part of a rotation policy through which chief coach Micheal Nobbs wants to create a group of leaders from among the senior players.
"It`s part of a rotation system as Michael Nobbs` idea is to create a thinking group in the team, who will share more responsibility. He wants to groom 5-6 senior players as leaders," Subbiah said.
"So, from now onwards till the Olympic qualifiers next year, you will see a new captain in every tournament," he added.
Apart from India and hosts Australia, the other two teams in the tournament to be played from October 20 to 23 are Pakistan and New Zealand.
The format is played on the normal dimension field but with many changes like an additional one metre wider goal and one player must be in the attacking half at all times.
Also, there can be only two defenders besides the keeper to stop penalty corners and there must not be more than four players from the attacking team for taking these set pieces.
The attacking players have to stand outside the 23 metre line before they receive the out push from the backline and the penalty corner must be executed within 25 seconds.
However, in the case of long corners it is five players versus five, but again the attackers have to be outside the 23 metre area.
If the scores are level after 30 minutes, penalty shootout will be applicable where the striker is allowed only eight seconds to score starting from the 23 metre line.
Unlike the 70-minute game, the duration is 30 minutes with two halves of 15 minutes each, thus making it fast and furious with fitness and athleticism playing a key role.
India will begin their tour with a match against Australia A on October 17 followed by another against New Zealand the next day before embarking on their nine-a-side event, which has the sanction of FIH.
This is the first time such a format is being played internationally and the organisers have coincided the event with the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) at Perth.
Apart from the nine-a-side event, India will also play an international tournament featuring Australia and Pakistan at Busselton and Bunbury in Western Australia.
Goalkeepers: Bharat Chetri (captain), PR Sreejesh
Defenders: Manjit Kullu, Rupinderpal Singh, VR Raghunath, Sandeep Singh.
Midfielders: Ignace Tirkey (vice-captain), Gurbaj Singh Vikas Sharma, Manpreet Singh, Vikram Pillay, Arjun Halappa Sardar Singh
Forwards: Danish Mujtaba, Ravi Pal, Sarvanjit Singh, Rajpal Singh, Yuvraj Valmiki, SV Sunil, Gurvinder Singh Chandi, Tushar Khandker, Bharat Chhikara.
Standbys: Nanak Singh (goalkeeper), Birendra Lakra (midfielder), Mandip Antil (forward), Chinglingsana (forward) Roshan Minz (forward).
The following is schedule of India`s tour of Australia:
October 17: India vs Australia `A`
October 18: India vs New Zealand
International Super Series nine-a-side tournament at Perth
October 20: India vs New Zealand (Two Matches)
October 21: India vs Pakistan (Two Matches)
October 22: India vs Australia (Two Matches)
October 23: Final and 3/4 Place
October 26: India vs Australia at Busselton
October 27: India vs Pakistan at Busselton
October 31: India vs Australia at Bunbury
November 1: India vs Pakistan at Bunbury
November 3: Final.