#5 Mandeep Singh – Forward
When Hockey India first announced their team for the 36th edition of the Champions Trophy, quite a few eyebrows were raised at the exclusion of seasoned campers like Ramandeep Singh and Rupinder Pal Singh. With the veterans given some much-needed rest ahead of the Olympics, how the decisive goals would arrive for India left a big question mark – the answer to which was impeccably provided by young striker Mandeep Singh.
#4 Harmanpreet Singh – Fullback
Unlike his fellow 21-year-old Mandeep who had earned his first international cap as early as 2013, Harmanpreet Singh had to toil for months before the selectors could be convinced of his senior-team readiness. But when he did receive the call-up before the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup 2016, he grabbed the opportunity with both hands and has been unstoppable since.
#3 Somwarpet V Sunil – Forward
Coach Roelant Oltmans had meant business when he emphasised on the vitality of striking a healthy balance between the spirited youngsters and the Indian team’s veterans ahead of the Rio Olympics 2016. India’s excellent showing at the 2016 Champions Trophy can hence be directly attributed to his endeavours.
#2 Vokkaliga R Raghunath – Fullback
Vokkaliga Ramachandra Raghunath has risen through the ranks to instate himself as one of the deadliest drag-flickers in World Hockey today. It is through his stick that a mammoth 129 goals have come India’s way, including the tournament opener against Germany on the first day.
#1 Parattu Raveendran Sreejesh – Goalkeeper
Words fall short in trying to describe P R Sreejesh’s contribution behind India’s historic Champions Trophy 2016 silver. After sitting out the Sultan Azlan Shah Trophy in April, ‘The Wall’ of Indian hockey arrived in London to lead the national team in the absence of skipper Sardara Singh. As it panned out, his relentless guarding of the woodwork was the priciest asset for India en route to their 2nd-place finish.