Helen Mary to lead

NEW DELHI: Seven girls from the Indian team that returned on Wednesday after taking part in the World junior hockey championship in Santiago, Chile, have made it to the 18-member Indian squad for the Indira Gandhi International Gold Cup hockey tournament for women beginning at the National Stadium here on Friday.

Helen Mary leads the side that opens its campaign against Malaysia. Australia, New Zealand and Italy are the other teams. Following a round-robin league, the top two teams will clash in the final on October 8.

Sarita Lakra, Jasjeet Kaur, Simarjeet Kaur, Gagandeep Kaur, Gurpreet Kaur, Rajwinder Kaur and Binita Toppo are the juniors in the team. Of the lot, Jasjeet Kaur is best remembered for scoring India's match-winner in the Asia Cup final against Korea here in February last year.

Helen, who took over the captaincy from Surajlata Devi last year, said on Thursday that the team would try and make the final. "This team has the right mix of experience and youth. Our match against New Zealand is going to be crucial. And should we beat New Zealand, the confidence of the girls will be high when they take on Australia. Before these games, I am confident that we'll beat Malaysia and Italy."

The team:

India: Helen Mary (captain), Sumrai Tete (vice-captain), Deepika Murthy, Subhadra Pradhan, Kanti Baa, Binita Toppo, Pushpa Pradhan, Rajwinder Kaur, Masira Surin, Gurpreet Kaur, Gagandeep Kaur, Mamta Kharab, Adeline Kerketta, Sanggai Chanu, Simarjeet Kaur, Jasjeet Kaur, Saba Anjum and Sarita Lakra.

Fixtures: Oct. 1: India v Malaysia; Oct. 2: India v Italy; Australia v New Zealand; Oct. 3: Italy v New Zealand; Australia v Malaysia; Oct. 4: Rest Day; Oct. 5: Australia v Italy; India v New Zealand; Oct. 6: New Zealand v Malaysia; Oct. 7: Italy v Malaysia; India v Australia; Oct. 8: Match for the third place, followed by the final.

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