In this background, the Manpreet Singh-led team will begin their season at the four-nation invitational hockey tournament in New Zealand, beginning on January 17. The tournament, to be played in Tauranga and Hamilton, will see Belgium, Japan, India and the New Zealand in action.
The tournament will mark the return of seasoned goalkeeper PR Sreejesh who was out of action due to a knee injury he sustained at the Sultan Azlan Shah tournament in May last year. Mainstay striker SV Sunil has been rested to manage the workload while four fresh youngsters will make their senior India debut.
Krishan Bahadur Pathak, the goalkeeper who was part of the junior World Cup-winning squad, has made it to the team along with his junior teammate Simranjeet Singh, a midfielder. The other two players are midfielder Vivek Sagar Prasad and forward Dilpreet Singh, both of whom impressed during the bronze-winning performance at the Sultan Johor Cup.
Akash Chikte and Suraj Karkera, who manned the goal at the Hockey World League final, have been axed.
For the second consecutive tournament, former skipper and experienced midfielder Sardar Singh finds himself out of the team. The coach was non-committal on Sardar's future in the team. "We're busy with this tournament. Then we'll see further. Right now, I can't say anything about the future," he said.
(Source: The Times Of India)