New Delhi: In one of the most significant decisions in recent times, Hockey India named senior goalkeeper PR Sreejesh as the captain of the national team for the Rio Olympics, removing long-time skipper Sardar Singh.
Sreejesh, one of the finest custodians in world hockey at the moment, was rewarded after the team, under his leadership, ended up with a silver medal at the blue riband six-nation Champions Trophy hockey tournament in London.
Sreejesh had a good tournament both as a player and captain as India had their best performance in the 38-year-history of the tournament. The team played a brilliant final where they held eventual champions Australia to a goalless draw in the regulation time before losing in a controversial shoot-out.
Playmaker SV Sunil, who is also a key component in the team, has been named vice-captain.
Things fell in place for Sreejesh at the right time and went awry for Sardar, who has been going through a torrid time both on and off the field.
His performance has dipped on the field as he is no longer as sharp a midfielder as he used to be. Off it, allegations of rape after pormising marriage levelled by a British national has also dented his reputation.
Sardar has been the captain of the national team for a number of years having led the team in London 2012.
While Sardar was rested for the Champions Trophy where India produced their best-ever show, the team did have a slump when it played the next tournament in Valencia, where they could win only one match against minnows Ireland, losing two games and managing to draw a couple.
Squad: PR Sreejesh (goalkeeper and Capt), Harmanpreet Singh, Rupinderpal singh, Kothajit Singh, Surender Kumar, Manpreet Singh, Sardar Singh, VR Raghunath, SK Uthappa, Danish Mujtaba, Devinder Walmiki, SV Sunil, Akashdeep Singh, Chinglensana Singh, Ramandeep singh, Nikkin Thimmaiah.
Stand Byes: Pradeep Mor, Vikas Dahiya (Reserve Goalkeeper).