Star midfielder Sardar Singh has been named the skipper of the 16-member India hockey team, while goalkeeper PR Sreejesh will be his deputy for the upcoming Glasgow Commonwealth Games, starting July 24.
India finished runners up the last time around at the major Dhyan Chand National Stadium, when the Kookaburras hammered the hosts 8-0 in the final. Five players, including skipper Sardar, Danish Mujtaba, Gurbaj Singh, Gurwinder Singh Chandi and Sreejesh, were part of that side.
The selectors have retained most of the players from the squad that finished ninth in the recently concluded Hockey World Cup in The Hague, with only goalkeeper Harjot Singh, Jasjit Singh, midfielders SK Uthappa and forward Mandeep Singh not making the cut.
Striker Gurwinder Singh Chandi and midfielder Danish Mujtaba have made a comeback to the Indian team for the forthcoming multisport event.
India gave a tough fight to teams like Belgium and England in the World Cup and Indian coach Terry Walsh insisted that the team is making improvements and is ready for the Commonwealth Games challenge.
"The team is in good shape and ready to take on the challenges in the Commonwealth Games 2014," Walsh said. "The entire team is showing strong signs of improvement and is dedicated towards overcoming the areas where they are lacking."
Indian captain Sardar stressed that the players are analysing the mistakes they made in the World Cup and is looking forward to compete in the forthcoming event.
"The whole team is positive about the Commonwealth Games and motivated to perform well in all the matches," Sardar said. "We are working on the loop holes by analyzing the mistakes made in the matches during the World Cup through video sessions. The efforts have been amplified in order to give our best in the Commonwealth Games."
India have been pooled alongside defending champion Australia, Wales, hosts Scotland and South Africa in Group A. The Sardar-led side will open their campaign against Wales on July 25 at the Glasgow National Hockey Center, followed by matches against Scotland, Australia and South Africa.
Goalkeeper: PR Sreejesh (vice-captain)
Defenders: Gurbaj Singh, Birendra Lakra, Rupinder Pal Singh, Kothajit Singh, VR Raghunath
Midfielders: Dharamvir Singh, Sardar Singh (captain), Danish Mujtaba, Chinglensana Singh Kangujam and Manpreet Singh
Forwards: Ramandeep Singh, Akashdeep Singh, SV Sunil, Gurwinder Singh Chandi and Nikkin Thimmaiah