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FIH Pro League: India to continue experimentation in match against Argentina

By PTI

BHUBANESWAR: The Indian men’s hockey team would look to continue its experimentation and test its bench strength ahead of a busy calendar year, despite suffering its second defeat in the tournament, when they take on Argentina in the two-legged FIH Pro League tie beginning here on Saturday.

The Indians slumped to their second defeat in the FIH Pro League, losing 3-5 to Spain in the second leg at the Kalinga Stadium here on February 27. Tokyo Olympic bronze medallist India’s other defeat came against France (2-5) last month.

But despite that, India are currently placed second in the standings with 12 points from six matches, including four wins, behind Netherlands (16 points). India chief coach Graham Reid continued to test his reserve players to broaden the team’s base ahead of this year’s Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games, which is a qualifier for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Midfielder Moirangthem Rabichandra Singh, a member of the FIH Junior World Cup squad, will make his debut against world number six Argentina. The home team will also witness Olympic medallist striker Gurjant Singh’s return from a brief injury lay-off.

The Indians also made a few changes in the main squad from the Spain tie. Goalkeeper Krishan Bahadur Pathak has taken the place of Suraj Karkera while Amit Rohidas and Jugraj Singh have replaced Mandeep Mor and Dipsan Tirkey in the backline.

Jaskaran Singh and Akshdeep Singh made way for Sumit and Rabichandra in the midfield. The Indian think tank continued to repose faith in young strikers Abhishek and Sukhjeet Singh and drag-flicker Jugraj Singh.

In fact, the Indian team management has named Amit Rohidas as skipper in place of Manpreet Singh, and Mandeep Singh as his deputy for this tie to broaden the team’s leadership group ahead of the important year.

The Indians have been hit hard by late goals in both the defeats and going forward, the team’s backline will have to lift its game by leaps and bounds to counter stronger oppositions. Argentina, on the other hand, are placed sixth with nine points from four games.

The visitors would be brimming with confidence having defeated England 2-0 and 3-1 in their previous tie. The Los Leonas also stunned Olympic champions Belgium 2-1 before losing 0-2 in the return leg.

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