Finally, the axe has been wielded. The Indian hockey team captain and goalkeeper Bharat Chetri and veteran forward Tushar Khandker have been omitted from the 33-member probables list released by Hockey India for the Australia tour next month.
As the team tries to recover from a disastrous Olympic campaign, where India finished last in the 12-team competition, chief selector Balbir Singh said it was an unanimous decision to drop the duo for the tour Down Under in an attempt to infuse young blood in the team. While Chetri’s place in the squad had been in doubt even before the Olympics, Khandker’s exclusion can be seen as a warning sign for the seniors who had under-performed at the London Games.
“The selectors, the government observer and chief coach met and were of the opinion that we need to include some young faces in our squad. It was an unanimous decision to drop Bharat and Tushar,” Balbir told DNA. “We have to start thinking about the Rio Games four years from now. It is necessary to groom young players.”
With Chetri dropped, Sardar Singh is likely to be the captain of the team for the Lanco Super Series and Champions Trophy. The final squad is expected to be announced in the first week of November. Youngster Yuvraj Walmiki finds himself back in the reckoning after being left out of the Olympics squad due to an injury while forward Sarvanjit Singh has also been dropped.