Change of guard: Salima replaces Savita as India skipper | Hockey - Hindustan Times
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Change of guard: Salima replaces Savita as India skipper

May 02, 2024 09:57 PM IST

In the 107 matches she has played, India have ended up winning 54, losing 29 and drawing 24. Salima was recently honoured with Player of The Year 2023 award.

A change of guard has been ordered in the Indian women’s hockey team as Salima Tete has replaced Savita Punia as skipper after they failed to qualify for the Paris Olympics.

Salima Tete
Salima Tete

Goalkeeper Savita, 33, had taken over the captaincy from Rani Rampal after the Tokyo Olympics where the team finished an unprecedented fourth, missing the bronze by a whisker three years ago.

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The decision has been taken keeping in mind the future which includes the World Cup and Asian Games, both in 2026, and most importantly the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.

The 22-year-old Salima, who hails from Jharkhand, made her debut in the 2016 Test series against Australia but only became a regular member of the squad in 2019. Apart from winning bronze medals at the 2022 Asia Cup, 2022 Commonwealth Games and 2023 Asian Games,

the midfielder also helped India win the 2022 Nations Cup and 2023 Asian Champions Trophy.

In the 107 matches she has played, India have ended up winning 54, losing 29 and drawing 24. Salima was recently honoured with the Balbir Singh Sr. Award for Player of The Year 2023 by Hockey India (HI).

"I am happy that I have been appointed to lead the team. It is a big responsibility and I am looking forward to this new role. We have a strong squad and it’s a mix of experienced and young players," said Salima.

She will be supported by Navneet Kaur, who as replaced the retired Deep Grace Ekka as vice-captain, as HI chose a 24-member squad that will head to Europe for the Pro League later this month. The 28-year-old Navneet, who normally plays as a forward, will be sharing the duties as an attacking midfielder this time around.

“In the upcoming Belgium and England legs of the Pro League, we look to put our strong foot forward. We have been training rigorously in the camp. We have worked on areas where we needed to improve. I am sure that we will put up good performances and get the results we desire.”

Though not skipper, Savita will continue to don the responsibilities of a goalkeeper along with Bichu Devi Kharibam while the defensive line-up includes Nikki Pradhan, Udita, Ishika Chaudhary, Monika, Jyoti Chhatri and Mahima Chaudhary.

The midfield will be marshalled by Salima, Navneet, Vaishnavi Vitthal Phalke, Neha, Jyoti, Baljeet Kaur, Manisha Chauhan and Lalremsiami. The forward line will have Mumtaz Khan, Sangita Kumari, Deepika, Sharmila Devi, Preeti Dubey, Vandana Katariya, Sunelita Toppo and Deepika Soreng.

India have had a very ordinary show at the Pro League so far, earning only two outright wins, one shootout victory and five losses to be placed sixth out of nine teams. India will play four matches against Argentina and hosts Belgium in Antwerp from May 22

to 26 before travelling to London where they will face Germany and hosts Great Britain in another four games from June 1 to 9 to conclude the league.

“It feels surreal to be named as the vice-captain. I am quite excited to get on with this team in the Pro League where we will play quality teams. We have a good team and we are confident that we will do well in the Europe leg. I am also looking to work on

my game and improve. We had a camp in SAI, Bengaluru where we underwent high-intensity training and I am looking forward to the upcoming games,” said Navneet.

India’s 24-member squad

Goalkeepers: Savita, Bichu Devi Kharibam

Defenders: Nikki Pradhan, Udita, Ishika Chaudhary, Monika, Jyoti Chhatri, Mahima Chaudhary

Midfielders: Salima Tete (C), Vaishnavi Vitthal Phalke, Navneet Kaur (VC), Neha, Jyoti, Baljeet Kaur, Manisha Chauhan, Lalremsiami,

Forwards: Mumtaz Khan, Sangita Kumari, Deepika, Sharmila Devi, Preeti Dubey, Vandana Katariya, Sunelita Toppo, Deepika Soreng

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