The Indian women’s hockey team is gearing up for major events in 2018. For the Korea tour that is going to happen between March 3 to 12, Hockey India on Friday (Feb 23) finalised a 20-member Indian Women’s Hockey Team. The tour requires the team to play five matches against the hosts at the Jinchun National Athletic Centre, Jinchun, Korea.

The authority has chosen India’s ace striker Rani Rampal to lead the team while defender Sunita Lakra is her deputy for the season opener. However, stellar goalkeeper Savita Punia is not joining the team team in the tour. In her place, Rajani Etimarpu and debut player Swati are goalkeepers in Korea.

Defender Deepika will make a comeback in Korea. She had taken rest last year due to a knee injury. Suman Devi Thoudam, Deep Grace Ekka, Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam and Gurjit Kaur, who will double up as dragflicker, will join Deepika.

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“The girls are consistently scoring well in the Yo-Yo Tests which indicates their speed, fitness level is improving. Most of the girls participated in the recently held Hockey India Senior Women National Championship in Ranchi where they performed well for their respective teams,” – Harendra Singh

Monika, Namita Toppo, Nikki Pradhan, Neha Goyal, Udita and Lilima Minz will form the midfield while Rani, Vandana Katariya, Lalremsiami, Navjot Kaur, Navneet Kaur and Poonam Rani, who is also returning to the squad after injury, will form India’s attack.

The Indian team is getting back to action for the first time after winning the Asia Cup.

“Doing well in the season’s first event is always important to gain confidence and momentum for the rest of the year. Also, the Korea Tour will help us analyze the areas that require improvement ahead of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games where we aim to finish on the podium,” said Chief Coach Harendra Singh.

On selecting a balanced team with young and experienced players, Harendra Singh said, “It is good to see experienced players Deepika and Poonam overcome injuries and return to the squad. We have a good mix of experienced players who will play an important role of guiding some of the youngsters in the team.”

Singh is optimistic about the team’s performance. He added, “The girls are consistently scoring well in the Yo-Yo Tests which indicates their speed, fitness level is improving. Most of the girls participated in the recently held Hockey India Senior Women National Championship in Ranchi where they performed well for their respective teams and I was also there to watch some of the matches. I am sure they will carry forward this good form in Korea too.”

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