A litmus test awaits Michael Nobbs. For the Aussie coach handling the Indian hockey team at the first Asian Champions Trophy the situation cannot be more unenviable. With the administration still in a shambles on more than one count, the role of Nobbs in Ordos (China) is bound to be viewed with a microscope.
It will be imprudent to estimate the efficacy of Nobbs in his first tournament.
He has been with the team for barely over a month. However, he had the opportunity to assess the national pool from among the 90-odd trainees at Bangalore.
How much was Nobbs heard in the selection committee meeting is not certain.
The selectors will reiterate that the best possible team has been picked up, given the enlarged list of injured players.
Rajpal Singh returns as captain. He missed the Azlan Shah trophy owing to injury leaving the role to Arjun Halappa, who is among the injured now.
Just a reshuffle
Objectively assessed, this is nothing more a reshuffle. Bharat Chettri is retained, and Adrian D'Souza gives way to Tamil Nadu's Sreejesh.
The nucleus is the two penalty corner strikers — Sandeep Singh and Rupinder Singh.
India's fortunes in the six-nation event rests on this duo. The midfield is striking. While some eyebrows will be raised over the recall of Ignace Tirkey, the stability of this layer rests on the seasoned Sardar Singh and Gurbaj Singh.
Rajpal heads an attacking young pack. Skilful ball players, Danish Mujtaba, Roshan Minz and S.V. Sunil generate some hope. The omission of Mandip Antil is surprising as does the inclusion of Yuvaraj Walmiki.
Meets China in opener
India takes on the host China in the opening game on September 3, and Japan the next day. The needle match against Pakistan is slated for September 9.
The women's team, a bronze medallist at the inaugural Champions Trophy in South Korea, has to improve its showing notches above to retain the hold on the podium.
That Japan, China and South Korea are in the FIH Champions Trophy in 2012 is a fact that India cannot ignore.
A medal again will be regarded as a shining performance.
India meets defending champion South Korea in the opening match on September 4.
The teams: Men: Goalkeepers: Bharat Chettri (Karnataka), P.R. Sreejesh (Tamil Nadu).
Defenders: Sandeep Singh (Haryana), Rupinderpal Singh (TN), Harpreet Singh (Punjab).
Midfielders: Sardar Singh (Haryana), Gurbaj Singh (Air India), Ignace Tirkey (Services), Manpreet Singh (Punjab), Manjit Kullu (Railways).
Forwards: Rajpal Singh (Chandigarh, captain), Danish Mujitaba (UP), Sarvanjit Singh (Punjab), S.V. Sunil (Services), Ravi Pal (Punjab), Gurvinder Singh Chandi (Punjab), Roshan Minz (Orissa) and Yuvaraj Valmiki (Air India).
Women: Goalkeepers: Yogita Bali, Savita; Defenders: Jayadeep Kaur, Jayapreet Kaur, Th. Pinki Devi.
Midfielders: Ritu Rani, Asunta Lakra, Kirandeep Kaur, Mukta Parva Barla, Deepika and Kiran Dahiya.
Forwards: Saba Anjum, (captain), Jaseet Kaur Handa, Poonam Rani, Vandana Kataria, Rani, Th. Aruradha Devi and Soundarya Yendala.