Sardar dropped; Rupinder, Lakra return for HWL Final
New Delhi: Veteran mid-fielder Sardar Singh was on Friday dropped from India's 18-member squad for next month's Hockey World League Final, while the fit-again Rupinder Pal Singh and Birendra Lakra made comebacks for the season-ending tournament to be held in Bhubaneswar.
The biggest omission from the squad was this year's Khel Ratna Award winner Sardar, who was part of the team that won the Asia Cup last month in Dhaka.
The exclusion might just mark the end of the former skipper's illustrious career.
In the Asia Cup, Sardar shunned his playmaker role in the midfield for young skipper Manpreet Singh and played as the 'free defender'. But the ouster from the HWL Final might mean that Sardar doesn't quite fit into the scheme of things of new chief coach Sjoerd Marijne, who took the reins of the team before the Asia Cup following Roelant Oltmans's ouster. Rupinder and Lakra's return will be big boost to the India's fragile backline.
Rupinder will return to the team after a five month lay- off due to a hamstring injury while Lakra has been in and out of the side after missing the Rio Olympics due to a knee injury.
While Rupinder last played for India in the Europe tour before the HWL Semi-Final, Lakra was part of last year's Asian Champions Trophy and December's four-nation Australia tour squad before being kept out to regain full fitness.