Varun Kumar returns to the 24-member Indian hockey team after a three-month absence for their FIH Pro League clash against Australia on February 22 and 23.
Defender Gurinder Singh also returns to the Indian hockey team after missing out on India’s second FIH Pro League clash against Belgium.
The 2016 Men's Hockey Junior World Cup winner will provide an additional cushion for India’s defence that conceded four goals in the two previous FIH Pro League matches against Belgium.
Varun Kumar was injured in October last year just before India’s Olympic qualifiers against Russia. The 24-year old was eventually replaced by seasoned-campaigner Birendra Lakra.
India finding the right balance
After winning 2-1 in their first FIH Pro League match against world champions Belgium, the two sides played out a five-goal thriller in the second one, where India narrowly lost 2-3.
Hence, against yet another top side like Australia, Graham Reid is looking to find the perfect balance between the Indian hockey team’s offence and defence.
"After having two high-intensity matches against the World Champions, we will be facing another strong team in Australia,” he said during a press conference. “We have again gone with a strong group of players who can provide us with a good balance throughout the field and help us in competing against one of the best teams in the world.”
Australia's hockey team, also known as The Kookaburras, had a nervy start to their FIH Pro League campaign after losses against Belgium. However, they got their campaign back on track with consecutive wins against Great Britain.
24-member Indian hockey men's team:
1. Sreejesh Parattu Raveendran
2. Krishan Pathak
3. Amit Rohidas
4. Surender Kumar
5. Birendra Lakra
6. Harmanpreet Singh (Vice-Captain)
7. Varun Kumar
8. Gurinder Singh
9. Rupinder Pal Singh
10. Manpreet Singh (Captain)
11. Vivek Sagar Prasad
12. Hardik Singh
13. Chinglensana Singh
14. Raj Kumar Pal
15. Akashdeep Singh
17. Lalit Upadhyay
18. Gursahibjit Singh
19. Dilpreet Singh
20. SV Sunil
21. Jarmanpreet Singh
22. Simranjeet Singh
23. Nilakanta Sharma
24. Ramandeep Singh
Where to watch the FIH Pro League
The FIH Pro League, with the Indian hockey team taking on Australia on Friday (February 21) and Saturday (February 22), will be shown live on the Star Sports network and will be live-streamed on Hotstar. Coverage starts at 7pm IST both days.