New Delhi: Former captain Rajpal Singh was forced out due to an appendix surgery, while veteran midfielder Ignace Tirkey was axed from the 18-member Indian hockey team announced on Friday for the FIH Men's Champions Challenge I from November 26 to December 4 in Johannesburg.

Rajpal had undergone an appendix operation during the recent tour of Australia and had been advised rest for a few days.

Tirkey was vice-captain of the team during the tour of and has been replaced by forward Tushar Khandekar in the position.

Other notable omissions were forwards Bharat Chikara, Ravipal and Gurvinder Singh Chandi.

Striker Shivendra Singh also returns to the team after remaining on the sidelines for a few months with a freak collarbone injury that he suffered during a national camp in Bangalore in July this year.
   
India have been drawn in Pool A of the Championship along with Belgium, Poland and host South Africa. Birendra Lakra and Chinglensana Singh Kangujam were the new entrants in the team.

The team will be captained by goalkeeper Bharat Chetri who has 116 international caps.
   
The team: Bharat Kumar Chetri (GK and Captain), Sreejesh Parattu Raveendran (GK), Manjeet Kullu, Rupinder Pal Singh, VR Raghunath, Sandeep Singh, Gurbaj Singh, Sardar Singh, Arjun Halappa, Manpreet Singh, Birendra Lakra, Sarvanjit Singh, Yuvraj Walmiki, SV Sunil, Danish Mujtaba, Tushar Khandker
(Vice Captain), Chinglensana Singh Kangujam, Shivendra Singh.

India Matches Schedule:

26 Nov India v Belgium       Pool 'A'    1500 hrs.
27 Nov India v South Africa  Pool 'A'   1700 hrs.
29 Nov India v Poland        Pool 'A'     1500 hrs.
01 Dec Quarter Finals
02 Dec Play Off Teams (5/8)
03 Dec Semifinals
04 Dec Play off for positions (3/4, 5/6, 7/8) and Final.