KUALA LUMPUR: Three players will make their debut for India’s senior national hockey team in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh from April 29-May 6.
The trio – Gurinder Singh, Sumit Kumar and Manpreet Junior – were part of the Indian team who won the Junior World Cup in Lucknow last December.
Three others from that victorious Junior World Cup squad – Harmanpreet Singh, Harjeet Singh and forward Mandeep Singh – are already members of the senior team.
Drag-flicker V.R. Raghunath, however, has been left out of the squad for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.
Some other notable names missing from the team this year are Birendra Lakra, Ramandeep Singh, S.K. Uthappa and Nikkin Thimmaiah.
India, who were joint-winners with South Korea in 2010, will be looking to win their sixth title in the series.
The other teams in the fray are hosts Malaysia, defending champions Australia, New Zealand, Britain and Japan.
India have included these newcomers as they are embarking on a four-year plan that will culminate at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
“We need to build a team that will be strong for the big two tournaments ahead – the 2018 World Cup in India and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics,” explained India coach Roelant Oltmans.
“We need to expose the youngsters now to see how they perform and also assess the other teams.”
India will start their Sultan Azlan Shah campaign against Britain on the opening day.
They then take on New Zealand, Australia, Japan and Malaysia.