Rani Rampal, who has been a core member of the Indian Women’s Hockey team, is all set to lead the team in the five-test series against New Zealand in Midlands. The series is going to begin from May 14 and Sushila Chanu, who is making a comeback eight months after suffering an injury, is going to be deputy to Rani in the series.
The team is a mix of both young and experienced players. The defence line is strong with players like Deep Grace Ekka, Udita, Sunita Lakra, Namita Toppo, Sushila and drag-flicker Gurjit Kaur.
Savita, who was ‘Goalkeeper of the tournament’ at the Women’s Hockey World League Round 2, is the first goalkeeper of the team. Rajani Etimarpu will play as the second goalkeeper.
Ritu Rani, Lilima Minz, Navjot Kaur, Monika, Renuka Yadav, Nikki Pradhan and Reena Khokar will comprise the midfield while Rani, Vandana Katariya, Preeti Dubey, Sonika and Anupa Barla will be placed at the forwardline.
The senior Indian women’s team has been doing well since the beginning of the season and now all eyes will be on them in this test-series. They started the year by winning the five-match Test series against Belarus and then went on to win at 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.
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The newly-appointed chief coach, Sjoerd Marijne, is confident of the team’s performance in the New Zealand tour. He believes that this will ensure the right exposure for the team and boost its confidence before the tournament scheduled 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, quoted Indian Express.
The team went on a three-session-a-day training routine at SAI, Bengaluru, for 21 days straight. The coach said that the emphasis of the training was on fitness.
“The focus of the camp was on fitness, improving individual technique as well as developing our defensive structure.”
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