18 January 2019
New Delhi: Hockey India on Friday named an 18-member Indian women's squad for the season opener in Spain which starts on January 26. And the good news is that two Odia players Deep Grace Ekka and Lilima Minz have made it to the squad.
The Indian team led by Rani will play four matches against Spain and two matches against the 2018 Women's World Cup runners-up Ireland.
The team includes goalkeepers Savita and Rajani Etimarpu. The Indian team for the Spain tour will feature defender Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam who makes a comeback after missing out on the 2018 Women's World Cup and the Asian Games in Jakarta-Palembang last year due to injury.
Defender Salima Tete, who led the India U-18 team to a Silver medal at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, has also been named in the team along with experienced Deep Grace Ekka, Reena Khokhar, Nikki Pradhan and drag-flicker Gurjit Kaur who will add strength to India's defence.
While midfield features Lilima Minz, Karishma Yadav, Sonika and Neha Goyal, the forward-line will have the experience of Rani, Vandana Katariya, Navneet Kaur, Lalremsiami, Udita and Navjot Kaur.
"The team has a different mix of players this time with some of the key players like Sunita Lakra, Namita Toppo among few other experienced players being rested. The idea was to give more players a chance to experience playing at a top level so we can create more depth in our selection ahead of the Olympic Qualifiers," chief coach Sjoerd Marijne said in a statement.
The Indian team will leave on January 24 from Bengaluru where they have been based for the past two weeks for the national camp.