NEW DELHI: Former captain Ritu Rani shunned retirement to make a comeback in the Indian team after a seven-month sabbatical as Hockey India announced an 18-member Indian squad for the women's Hockey World League Round 2, to be held in Canada from April 1.
The Indian squad includes experienced Deepika, Ritu, Vandana Katariya, Poonam Rani, Navjot Kaur, Deep Grace Ekka, Renuka Yadav, Monika, Sunita Lakra, Namita Toppo, and goalkeeper Savita who were all part of the Rio Olympics squad.
India will be up against Belarus, Canada, Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay and Chile in the Round 2.
Midfielder Ritu had announced her retirement in September last year, post her wedding.
"I am very happy and excited to be back in the national camp with my teammates. I thank Hockey India for allowing me to withdraw my retirement and giving me the opportunity to be part of the team again," Ritu said.
"My family is extremely supportive of me playing hockey and they really encouraged me to pursue the sport even after marriage. They are the reason why I am back again. I think the women's team has entered a new and exciting phase where I believe if we work hard, we can really make a mark in world hockey," she said.
The Indian eves recorded an emphatic 5-0 whitewash of Belarus in the recently-concluded Test Series in Bhopal.
Speaking about the big win ahead of the Hockey World League Round 2, Sjoerd Marijne, the newly-appointed chief coach for the Indian women's team said,"The most important thing in the Test Series was to understand each other. Besides that, we wanted to implement a few new things and the girls understand better and better which is really good. I am happy with the result and most importantly I am happy with their consistent performance."
Marijne insisted that the following weeks at the national camp in Bhopal will be crucial in terms of improving their fitness and other tactical structure.
"The next few weeks will be crucial as we will train on specific details. The focus will be on fitness, passing and receiving specific to the tactical structure we want to play.
We like to play fast hockey and it starts with these elements," insisted the Dutchman. He further stated that playing practice matches is important as it helps improve the team's defensive skills.
Marijne expressed that his first few weeks have been fruitful. "We feel really welcome. The team is very disciplined and they show the eagerness to get better and better. As coaches, it is a good environment to be in," he said."
Goalkeepers: Savita, Rajani Etimarpu;
Defenders: Deep Grace Ekka, Sunita Lakra, Gurjit Kaur, Renuka Yadav, Lalhlunmawii;
Midfielders: Deepika, Navjot Kaur, Ritu Rani, Monika, Lily Chanu Mayengbam, Namita Toppo;
Forwards: Rani, Vandana Katariya, Poonam Rani, Sonika, Anupa Barla.