Pune: Pune boy Vishal Pillay has been named captain of Maharashtra hockey team, which begins its campaign in the 5th Hockey India Senior Men’s National Hockey championship for ‘A’ Division at the Balewadi Hockey Ground here Monday.
Grouped in Pool C, Maharashtra will fight it out with Uttar Pradesh, Services, Haryana and Tamil Nadu in a five-team pool for a top two places to be able to make it to the quarterfinals.
Vishal Pillay will be assisted by Ashish Shirodkar of Kolhapur as the host readies to take on the challenge for the first time in the Elite Division.
Last year Maharashtra qualified for the ‘A’ Division after making it to the finals of the ‘B’ Division National Hockey championship.
The selection committee named Akash Chikte of Yavatmal and Avdhut Solankar of Pune as goalkeepers in the 18-member team. Olympian Ajit Lakra will be the team coach and Niranjan Ekka manager.
Maharashtra takes on Services in the opening match on Monday morning with the second match scheduled against Haryana on Tuesday.
“We have put together a good team and given the way the boys have prepared I am sure there will be some surprise results in the next week,” said Manoj Bhore, General Secretary of the Hockey Maharashtra.
Announcing the team, Bhore said: “We have given representation to most of the districts possible. We have chosen the best possible team.”
Goalkeepers: Akash Chikte (Yavatmal), Avdhut Solankar.
Kanchan Rajbhar, Basant Tirkey, Sandeep Sawant (Kolhapur), Vinod Nair, Gunendra Kavreti, Ruben Kedari, Lovepreet Singh, Ashish Chetty (Aurangabad), Aftab Alam, Ashish Shirodkar (Vice-Captain, Kolhapur), Rajendra Ekka, Vishal Pillay (Captain), Navneet Swarankar, Vinit Kamble (Ahmednagar), Ashutosh Lingesh, Razik Shaikh.
Coach: Ajit Lakra,
Manager: Niranjan Ekka.
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