[India], May 28 (ANI): Striker Ramandeep Singh returned to the squad as Hockey India on Tuesday named the 18-member team for the much-awaited FIH Men's Series Finals, beginning June 6 at Kalinga Hockey Stadium.
Ramandeep last wore the India colours at the FIH Champions Trophy in Breda last year. He had since been out of action due to a knee injury. The team will be led by Manpreet Singh and Vice-Captained by Birendra Lakra.
The event will see India grouped in Pool A along with Russia, Poland and Uzbekistan while the 18th Asian Games Gold Medalist Japan, Mexico, USA and South Africa are grouped in Pool B.
Experienced goalkeeper PR Sreejesh and Krishan B Pathak will defend India's goalpost while Harmanpreet Singh, Birendra Lakra, Surender Kumar, Varun Kumar, Amit Rohidas and Gurinder Singh will add to India's defenders.
The midfield will see Manpreet play a key role along with Hardik Singh, Vivek Sagar Prasad, Sumit and Nilakanta Sharma. The forward-line will see Ramandeep, Gursahibjit Singh, Simranjeet Singh and Akashdeep Singh along with Mandeep.
India will open its campaign on June 6 against Russia and will be aiming to finish on the top in order to make it for the Olympic Qualifying event to be held later this year.
"I am very much looking forward to my first FIH tournament as Chief Coach of the Indian team. The FIH Men's Series Finals Bhubaneswar Odisha 2019 is an important step in the Olympic qualification process," Chief Coach Graham Reid expressed.
"We have selected a well-balanced group including Ramandeep Singh, who is returning from injury and Varun Kumar who was rested for the Australian tour. Sumit and Amit Rohidas too return to bolster our defensive capabilities and our Penalty Corner. Simranjeet also returns to add some flexibility and strike power to the forward-line," said Reid about the team composition.
Speaking about India's preparedness for the tournament, Reid noted, "Our focus for the tournament will be the consistency of performance. To achieve this will we need to respect every opposition and give our 100 percent every quarter, each half, each game. Our goal will be to be the best team we can be."
He further added that the team's emphasis at the moment is on circle entries, finishing, tight marking and tackling.
"The Australian tour made us very aware of the level we need to play at to compete with the best teams of the world and we need to aim for that each time we train and each time we play," Reid said.
"We are spending a lot of time at the moment on our circle entries, our finishing, tight marking and tackling and we want to see improvements in these areas. PCs are also important and we have chosen three drag flickers to use during the tournament," he concluded. (ANI)