Former captain Rani Rampal returns to the Indian women's hockey team for the upcoming tour of South Africa. The series will kick off on January 16 2023 in Cape Town. Hockey India announced the squad on Thursday. In the Rainbow nation, Indian Women will play four matches against South Africa, and three matches against the Netherlands between January 16 and 28.
The captain of the team will be the goalkeeper Savita, who led India in their recent FIH Women's Nations Cup 2022 triumph. Backing the captain in the goalkeeping department, Bichu Devi Kharibam also makes her way into the squad.
The defence has stars like Nikki Pradhan, Ishika Chaudhary, Udita, and Gurjit Kaur. Moving into the midfield, Vaishnavi Phalke, Nisha, Salima Tete, Sushila Chanu, Monika, Neha, and Sonika, are included with Baljeet Kaur, who is returning to the squad since making her debut in the FIH Women's Hockey Pro League 2021/22 match against Belgium.
Rani and Navneet Kaur, the forward line includes the experienced Vandana Katariya, Lalremsiami, Sangita Kumari, Beauty Dungdung, Reena Khokhar, and Sharmila Devi. Speaking about the tour, chief coach Janneke Schopman talked about the importance of playing against top teams like South Africa and the Netherlands.
She said, “The South Africa tour is a brilliant opportunity for us to build on our performance of the Nations Cup. Playing both South Africa as well as The Netherlands on this tour provides us with everything we need to learn about ourselves come the Asian Games."
"Playing the World number 1 Netherlands will most likely expose our vulnerabilities and will also show where we are with our performance and growth. Playing South Africa, where we most likely will have more of the ball, will give us the opportunity to improve in ball possession areas," she further added.
Indian Women's Squad:
Goalkeepers: Savita (captain), Bichu Devi Kharibam.
Defenders: Nikki Pradhan, Udita, Ishika Chaudhary, Gurjit Kaur.
Midfielders: Vaishnavi Vitthal Phalke, P. Sushila Chanu, Nisha, Salima Tete, Monika, Neha, Sonika, Baljeet Kaur.
Forwards: Lalremsiami, Navneet Kaur (vice-captain), Vandana Katariya, Sangita Kumari, Beauty Dungdung, Rani Rampal, Reena Khokhar, Sharmila Devi.