Following are the Hockey India Profiles of the Indian Women’s Hockey team that is taking part in the Asian Games at Jakarta from Aug 18: The age and caps are as on 8 August 2018.
Name: Rani (Captain)
At the age of 15, Ranibecame the youngest player to represent the national team when she made her debut at the Champions Challenge Tournament held in 2009. She hails from the state of Haryana and is the only Indian to be nominated for the FIH Women’s Young Player of the Year Award, while she was also given the “Best Young Player of the Tournament” award at the 2010 Women’s Hockey World Cup in Argentina.It was under her captaincy that India created history as they won the Women’s Asia Cup in 2017 after 13 years.Rani believes that Asia Cup was just a stepping-stone for bigger things to come as her team qualified for the Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup London 2018. An inspirational leader, Rani has set her team’s aim to bring more glory as India prepares to take part at the 2018 Asian Games.
One of the finest Goalkeepers to have represented India in recent times, Savita made her debut for the national team at the age of 18 when she was selected for the Spar Cup Four Nations Tournament in Durban, South Africa. The 27-year-old hails from the state of Haryana. Her maturity under the bar saw her catch the attention of the selectors and the goal-stopper has never looked back since then, featuring over 150 times for the national team. She played a key role in helping India win the bronze medal at the 8th edition of Women’s Asia Cup in 2013. The 28-year-old was also a part of the team that won the Women’s Asian Champions Trophy in 2016 and was part of the team’s first appearance since 36 years at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Her performance at the FIH Women’s World League Round 2 saw her win the goalkeeper of the tournament award, while a crucial save from her in the Penalty Shootout in the final match of 9th Women’s Asia Cup saw India lift the trophy after 13 years. Savita also played a crucial role in India’s Silver medal finish at the Women’s Asian Champions Trophy 2018.
The 28-year-old from Andhra Pradesh made her debut for India in 2009 after she excelled at the Junior Women’s National Camp in Lucknow. The goalkeeper has been a constant in the core group and took over as a regular member of the team after the retirement of Yogita Bali. Rajani was a part of the Indian team which participated at the 2016 Rio Olympics and has since represented the team at all major tournaments in recent years, including the FIH Women’s World League Round 2, FIH Women’s World League Semi-final, 9th Women’s Asia Cup 2017 where the team won the Gold medal in Japan, and the recently concluded Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup London 2018.
The 31-year-old forward from Yamunanagar, Haryana is a product of the Sports Hostel, Chandigarh and has been a rock at the centre of defence for the team for over a decade and is a three-time World Cupper, making appearances at the 2006, 2010 and 2018 editions. The defender has taken part in important tournaments for the country and was recognized for her contributions to the team when she was awarded the Dhruv Batra Player of the Year award in 2016. The defender was also nominated for the Arjuna Award in 2017 and was a part of the 9th Women’s Asia Cup 2017 Gold Medal winning team in Japan.
The 27-year-old defender hails from the state of Odisha and made her debut for the national team in 2009. During her nine years with the senior team, Sunita has emerged as one of the most important cogs in the Indian defence, guiding the team to victories in the Asian Champions Trophy in 2016 and the 9th Women’s Asia Cup 2017 in Japan. Lakra is considered as a leader within the team and was rewarded with the duties of being the Vice Captain in the absence of Savita, during the tour of South Korea earlier this year where the team won 3-1 in a five-match series. The defender captained the team which won the Silver medal in the Women’s Asian Champions Trophy 2018 and was an integral part of the Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup London 2018 side.
Deep Grace Ekka
Deep Grace Ekka hails from Odisha and has become one of the best defenders to have emerged from the state. The 24-year-old was a part of the Junior team which won the Bronze medal at the 2013 Women’s Junior Hockey World Cup in Germany. The defender was rewarded for her performance as she was then selected in the senior team which won the Bronze medal in 8th Women’s Asia Cup in 2013. Ekka has since been a regular fixture in the side, completing 150 International caps at this year’s Commonwealth Games. She was also a part of the side that won the Silver medal at the Women’s Asian Champions Trophy 2018 and participated at the Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup London 2018.
Gurjit Kaur is one of the most crucial cogs of this team being a drag-flick expert, and she has been consistently performing well at the highest level. Her goals have contributed to big victories for the team in the last couple of years. The 22-year-old hails from Punjab and played an important role in India’s victory at the 9th Women’s Asia Cup in Japan where she scored a total of eight goals, finishing as the tournament’s third-highest goal-scorer. She went on to contribute in the team’s Silver medal win at the Women’s Asian Champions Trophy earlier this year, and the participation at the Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup London 2018.
The 25-year-old defender hails from Punjab and made her international debut as a senior player during the team’sIndia vs Belarustest matches in March 2017. During her early days, Reena started playing for Madhya Pradesh Hockey Academy in Bhopal and after doing well in many national-level tournaments in different age categories, she was selected for the Senior national camp. Because of her performances and determination, she was selected in the Senior team last year. She has since made a handful of appearances for the team and is considered as an attacking defender by Chief Coach Sjoerd Marijne due to her ability to go forward during attacks. The defender also represented the team in the recently concluded Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup London 2018.
The 24-year-old midfielder hails from Haryana and has transformed into the backbone of the team through her inspiring performances at the 9th Women’s Asia Cup 2017 (where she scored a goal in the final match against China) and FIH Women’s Hockey World League Round 2 held in Canada in 2017. The creative midfielder plays an important job of linking the play from defence to attack and has featured over 100 times for the national team. She has previously represented India at the 2014 Asian Games, and the 2016 Asian Champions Trophy. The midfield maestro has been a part of the Women’s Asian Champions Trophy 2018 Silver medal-winning team and played her first World Cup recently in London.
The 23-year-old hails from Odisha and is one of the five players that make up the midfield of the current Indian team. She was a member of the squad that won the Bronze medal at the Women’s Junior World Cup in Germany in 2013 and was then drafted into the senior national team. Toppo has also represented India at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014, Incheon Asian Games in 2014, and the 9th Women’s Asia Cup in 2017. The midfielder also won the Silver medal with the team during their 5th Women’s Asian Champions Trophy campaign earlier this year and represented the country at the recently concluded Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup London 2018.
The Jharkhand-born player made her International debut during the 2016 South Africa Tour. Since then Nikki has represented the women’s team with aplomb at every important tournament including the Rio Olympics in 2016, Hockey World League Semifinals, Women’s Asia Cup in 2017. The 24-year-old also donned the Indian colours during the Korean Tour in March 2018, 5th Women’s Asian Champions Trophy in South Korea and the recently concluded Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup London 2018.
Neha first represented India at the age of 14 when she was picked for the Junior Asia Cup in 2011. In the same year, at the U-21 Four-Nations Lal Bahadur Shastri women’s hockey tournament, she was declared the Player of the Tournament. She made her senior debut in 2014 and played her first match at FIH Champions Challenge in Glasgow. In the 2017 Women’s Asia Cup, Neha also scored her first goal against China in their Pool match. The midfielder has impressed many in her short time with the national team and has been a regular fixture in this young side, winning the Silver medal at the 5th Women’s Asian Champions Trophy and representing the team at the Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup London 2018.
Hailing from Odisha, Lilima started playing hockey with Railways and has over a 100 caps for India. She was part of the Indian junior team that won the bronze medal at the 2013 Junior World Cup at Monchengladbach, Germany. Since her debut in 2013, she has been an integral part of the team representing India at top tournaments like 2016 Rio Olympics, Hockey World League Semi Finals, Women’s Asia Cup, Women’s Asian Champions Trophy 2018 and Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup London 2018 among others.
The Kurukshetra born forward made her international debut in 2012 in a series against New Zealand in Napier at the back of some impressive work at the Junior Asia Cup and International U-21 tournament in the Netherlands where India had finished third. She was part of the team that excelled at the Hockey World League Semi-Finals 2015 taking India to the doorsteps of the Olympics. She also featured in the 17th Asian Games, 2016 Rio Olympics, 4th Women’s Asian Champions Trophy and was also part of India’s successful campaign at the Women’s Hockey World League Round 2 in Canada. The forward also played a crucial role in India’s Gold medal winning 9th Women’s Asia Cup campaign and the Silver medal winning 5th Women’s Asian Champions Trophy outing.
Hailing from Uttar Pradesh, Vandana forms the attacking line in the Indian team. The 26-year old started off her career playing for the Railways. Country’s top scorer in the Junior Women’s World Cup in Monchengladbach, Germany 2013, she played an instrumental role in helping India bag a coveted bronze medal. Since then she has been an integral player for the team participating in all major tournaments including 2016 Rio Olympics, 2016 Asian Champions Trophy, 2017 Hockey World League Semifinals, 9th Women’sAsia Cup, 5th Women’s Asian Champions Trophy and the Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup London 2018.
One of the youngest players in the team, Lalremsiami was born and brought up in Kolasib in Mizoram, A graduate from Mizoram’s elite Thenzawl Women’s Hockey Training Centre, she played a vital role in India’s success at last year’s Women’s Asia Cup, scoring against Japan and Singapore. Before making it to the senior level, Lalremsiami shined at the 4th U18 Asia Cup scoring three goals in the tournament. During the recent tour to Korea, her solitary goal in the opening match against Korea gave India a win. She has also represented the country at the 5th Women’s Asian Champions Trophy 2018 and the recently concluded Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup London 2018.
Navneet Kaur has been one of the most consistent forwards in the Indian team. Hailing from Haryana, she was one of the most impactful players for the team that won the 9th Women’s Asia Cup in November 2017 scoring four goals. She was also a part of the bronze medal winning team at Junior Women’s Hockey World Cup in Germany in 2013 alongside current captain Rani. The 22-year-old has also won the Silver Medal with the Indian team during the 5th Women’s Asian Champions Trophy and was a crucial part of the team that participated at the Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup London 2018.
Udita is one of the youngest members of the Indian Women’s team and hails from Hisar, Haryana. She made her senior team debut in New Zealand tour in May 2017. During her early days, when a young Udita started playing hockey, she used to play as a striker but later shifted to midfield. She was first selected for the junior camp in 2015 and consequently represented the Indian Junior team in 2016, later captaining the Indian U-18 team that won the bronze medal at the 4th Women’s U-18 Asia Cup 2016. She has since represented India at the 5th Women’s Asian Champions Trophy earlier this year and was also a part of the Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup London 2018 team.