Although missing the services of top defender Sandeep Singh, Haryana will remain a strong contender to defend its title when the Hockey India senior National championship begins in Bangalore on Sunday.
Sandeep has had to pull out of the tournament after down with typhoid, but his absence has not unduly worried the reigning champion.
Meanwhile, host Karnataka, which finished runner-up last year after losing 2-1 in the final at Bhopal, will look to go all the way before a home crowd. “We’re definitely hoping so,” coach B. Kishore Kumar said.
Led by India international V.R. Raghunath, Karnataka will bank on the likes of S.K. Uthappa — player of the tournament last time — to go far in the competition.