India have taken a young side for the Europe tour, where they are set to face Belgium, Netherlands and Austria. They start off their tour against Belgium on Wednesday.
For a change, India have included six new players in the team, which makes matter interesting, especially with Asia Cup and World League final slated later in the year. The stars of the junior world cup have been selected for the tour, and they will be itching to do well and look to impress Roelant Oltmans.
With the inclusion of young guns like Varun Kumar, Dipsan Tirkey, Nilakanta Sharma, there is good mix of youngsters and experienced campaigners against Belgium. With Manpreet Singh set to lead India in Europe, he will look for his established players like Ramandeep Singh, SK Uthappa to deliver the goods in the opening match.
India have always been a strong team on the offensive front, scoring goals, converting field goals as well as penalty corners. They are an attractive team to watch when on flow, but more often than once, they have been caught napping on the defence, which has to be solid against Belgium.
India might not have a strong defence line, lacking big names, and against Belgium, the likes of Kothajit and Tirkey might be tested to the hilt. It gives them a huge chance to show their full credential as well.
Belgium are a strong team, and have been doing extremely well in world hockey. No wonder, they are ranked higher than team India. Belgium are ranked fifth while India are sixth. With Belgium playing at home, they are going to be an even stronger side for the clash against India.
They play some fluid hockey, and if they get their game going in front of their home fans, it might be difficult for the visitors to even make a mark in the opening match.
18-member India squad: Goalkeepers: Akash Chikte, Suraj Karkera.
Defenders: Dipsan Tirkey, Kothajit Singh, Gurinder Singh, Amit Rohidas, Varun Kumar.
Midfielders: SK Uthappa, Harjeet Singh, Manpreet Singh (C), Chinglensana Singh, Sumit, Nilakanta Sharma.
Forwards: Mandeep Singh, Ramandeep Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Gurjant Singh, Armaan Qureshi.
How to follow match
India ve Belgium match is scheduled for 10:30 pm IST. Unfortunately, there is no live coverage of the match on TV, but the live scores can be followed on Hockey India Twitter handle