Source: News Bharati English11 Nov 2016 18:21:10

Bengaluru, November 11: After successfully bagging the title of Asian Champions Trophy post beating Pakistan in the finals, Indian hockey team geared up for a Four-Nation Tournament starting November 23 followed by a Test series against hosts Australia.
The team will be led by experienced drag flicker VR Raghunath in the absence of PR Sreejesh who is carrying a knee injury, he sustained during the penalty shootout at the semifinal against Korea at the Asian Champions Trophy. The responsibilities of his deputy will be shouldered by defender and drag flicker Rupinder Pal Singh who showcased splendid form and was adjudged top scorer at ACT.

Akash Chikte who came up with outstanding performance in the final of ACT will be India’s custodian in Melbourne, Australia where they play the hosts, Malaysia and New Zealand. The second goal keeper will be Abhinav Kumar Pandey from Uttar Pradesh. “Abhinav has been in and out of the camps. He has had a knee injury for a while but has made a strong comeback and we are pleased with his performance in this camp,” said chief coach Roelant Oltmans.

Ace forward SV Sunil too will miss the tournament as he is yet to fully recover from the wrist injury he sustained at the Rio Olympics. Ramandeep Singh who replaced Sunil in ACT will also miss out due to injury. The injured duo will be replaced by Nikkin Thimmaiah and Sardar Singh.

“Both Sreejesh and Sunil will remain in SAI for rehabilitation. Also Sreejesh has willingly stepped up to spend some time with the junior team goalkeepers. He has already starting working with them and will assist Dave Staniforth who is joining us next week. This is great for the young boys and sharing his experience with them will be valuable ahead of the Junior World Cup,” stated Oltmans, who will work with the junior team while strategic coach Roger Van Gent will accompany the senior team to Australia.

Meanwhile stand-in skipper Raghunath expressed that the team is upbeat and eager to face the challenge Down Under. “The Asian Champions Trophy win has boosted the morale of the players and the team’s spirit is high. However, playing in Australia is a different challenge and we are up for it. We have beaten Australia in their home earlier in 2014 Test series and look to repeat similar performance this time too,” he said.