India will seek to win back the hockey gold

India will look to reassert its ‘giant’ status in the 12th South Asian Games, which gets under way with the opening ceremony scheduled for Friday.

With the Games coming only a few months ahead of the biggest sporting spectacle on earth — the Olympics — some of country’s top athletes have given this event a miss.

Badminton star Saina Nehwal has opted out in the last moment, as has Dipika Pallikal from the squash event.

But there will be no shortage of entertainment as star shooter Gagan Narang, boxers M.C. Mary Kom and Shiva Thapa, and quarter-miler M.R. Poovamma have confirmed their participation.

India will be keen to wrest away the hockey gold from its traditional rival, Pakistan. While most of the regulars are busy with the on-going Hockey India League, coach B.J. Kariappa said the team here, under the captaincy of Mandeep Antil, has the right mix to challenge for gold.

India is grouped with Pakistan, which has won the gold in the previous two editions.

The Indian women’s team, which has qualified for the Olympics after 36 years, will also look for glory under the captaincy of Ritu Rani.

India, which won 90 golds in the 2010 edition in Dhaka, is expected to dominate in athletics, archery, badminton, boxing, shooting, swimming, table tennis, wrestling, weightlifting and cycling events.

The host will look to regain gold in squash and football where it had lost the top position to Pakistan and Bangladesh respectively in the last edition.

In squash, Saurav Ghosal, Harinderpal Singh Sandhu and Joshna Chinappa will be the players to beat.

In football, India announced its 28 probables of the men’s team barely four days ahead of the tournament and is yet to announce the final 20, with only two days to go for the start of the competition.

The women’s team will start its campaign in Shillong.

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Printable version | Apr 1, 2020 2:10:10 AM |

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