Europe tour: Rani to lead Indian women’s hockey team

New Delhi: Forward Rani will be leading an 18-member Indian women’s hockey team for the tour of Europe, which begins against the Netherlands on September 5.

Goalkeeper Savita will be her deputy.

The team features a mix of youth and the experienced in their line-up with the defence formed by Deep Grace Ekka, Sunita Lakra, Gurjit Kaur, Navdeep Kaur and Rashmita Minz.

The custodians are Savita and Rajani Etimarpu while the midfield will feature Namita Toppo, Nikki Pradhan, Monika, Karishma Yadav, Lilima Minz and Neha Goyal.

The forwardline will see Rani, seasoned Poonam Rani, Vandana Katariya, Reena Khokhar and Lalremsiami.

In their previous outing at the Women’s Hockey World League Semi Final, the team lost to England in the quarter final and eventually ended the competition in 8th place.

The team began the year on a positive note with a five- match series win against Belarus followed by a podium finish at the World League Round 2 in Canada.

However, the women’s team seeks consistency as they had lost a five-match series to higher ranked New Zealand ahead of the Women’s World League Semi Final in Johannesburg.

“I wouldn’t say we dropped our performance after starting the year on a winning note. Our exposure against New Zealand was good despite the loses and we will be working on the mistakes we made in Johannesburg during the on-going camp in Bengaluru,” Rani said.

“We need to be more consistent and the team is positively working towards achieving better results,” she added.

Meanwhile Coach Sjoerd Marijne stated that the Holland experience will throw open a bigger pool of players to choose from for the all-important 2017 Women s Asia Cup in Japan.

“We will be experimenting new combinations in Holland and try out different variations in PC conversions and goal scoring. Mental training is another aspect we are focused on at the moment in our ongoing camp apart from improving speed and core fitness,” stated the 43-year-old Dutch Coach.

Squad: Goalkeepers: Savita (Vice Captain), Rajani Etimarpu: Defenders: Deep Grace Ekka, Gurjit Kaur, Navdeep Kaur, Sunita Lakra, Rashmita Minz; Midfielders: Namita Toppo, Nikki Pradhan, Monika, Karishma Yadav, Lilima Minz, Neha Goyal; Forwards: Rani (Captain), Poonam Rani, Vandana Katariya, Reena Khokhar, Lalremsiami. (PTI)

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