Rani to lead Indian hockey eves in Kiwi Test series

New Delhi [India],May 4 : Rani will lead the 20-member Indian senior women's hockey team in the five-match Test series against New Zealand, beginning May 14 at Midlands.

Meanwhile, Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam, who is making a comeback after nearly eight months of rehabilitation due to an injury, will shoulder the duties of vice-captain.

The team includes a mix of experienced and the young with the defence line formed by Deep Grace Ekka, Udita, Sunita Lakra, Namita Toppo, Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam and Gurjit Kaur who also doubles up as the team's only drag flicker.

The goal will be kept by Savita who had a fantastic outing at the Women's Hockey World League Round 2 where she was adjudged the goal keeper of the tournament.

Rajani Etimarpu will travel as the second goal-keeper in the team. The midfield will be formed by the experienced Ritu Rani, Lilima Minz, Navjot Kaur, Monika, Renuka Yadav, Nikki Pradhan and Reena Khokar.

The forwardline features Rani, Vandana Katariya, Preeti Dubey, Sonika and Anupa Barla. The Indian Senior Women's team have had a great start to the new season with some remarkable wins. They kicked off the year with an emphatic Five-Match Test Series win against Belarus. The team returned victorious from the Women's Hockey World League Round 2 beating Chile in the final and securing their berth for the World League Semi Final in June.

Dutchman Sjoerd Marijne, the newly-appointed chief coach for the Indian women's team, is confident the New Zealand tour will help the team gain the required exposure ahead of important tournament lined up in June.

"The goal of the tour is to play well against a higher ranked team and experience on what level we are now.

If we can execute the plans we have focused on through the camp, I am confident we can notch up good results.

Doing well against a team like New Zealand will bring a lot of confidence to the team," expressed Marijne.

The team has been put through the grind in a 21-day camp at SAI, Bengaluru where the team trains three session a day.

Marijne says the emphasis was on fitness and scientific advisor Wayne Lombard has been working with the team one session each day.

"The focus of the camp was on fitness, improving individual technique as well as developing our defensive structure." The Indian squad is as follows: Rajani Etimarpu ,Savita, Deep Grace Ekka ,Udita, Sunita Lakra, Gurjit Kaur , Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam (VC), Namita Toppo , Ritu Rani, Lilima Minz , Navjot Kaur ,Monika , Renuka Yadav , Nikki Pradhan ,Reena Khokar, Rani (C), Vandana Katariya , Preeti Dubey, Sonika , Anupa Barla.

Source: ANI