Hockey India on Sunday extended its best wishes to the Indian women’s team captain Savita and defender Nikki Pradhan on playing milestone matches during the third bilateral test encounter with Australia in Adelaide.
Savita achieved the milestone of completing 250 international caps for the country while Nikki earned her 150th cap at the Mate Stadium in Adelaide.
Since making her debut at the Spar Cup Four Nations Tournament in Durban in 2009, Savita has come up the ranks and cemented her place in the team with some top-quality performances over the years.
Savita was 20 years old at the time of making her Senior Team debut. She caught the attention of the selectors during her junior days with some age-defying performances and a sharp presence of mind, informed Hockey India in a media release on Sunday.
Savita’s career was built on some outstanding performances including crucial saves in the penalty shoot-out to hand India the bronze medal in the eighth edition of the Asia Cup which was held in Malaysia in 2013.
She was adjudged the Goalkeeper of the Tournament at the Hockey World League Round 2 in Canada in 2017 and was also part of the team that won the Women’s Asian Champions Trophy in 2016.
The 32-year-old has won several accolades in her career spanning over a decade including the Arjuna Award. She was instrumental in India’s historic fourth-place finish at the Tokyo Olympics. She was also part of the team that participated in the Rio Olympics 2016 and was also a member of the team that made it to the Quarter-Finals of the Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup 2018 held in London.
As captain, Savita led India to a bronze medal in the Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022 and to title triumph in the FIH Nations Cup which helped the team qualify for the FIH Pro League 2023-24.
“It is a very special moment for me to complete 250 International caps for India. The journey to this moment has seen several highs and lows and this milestone could not have been possible without the support of my teammates. I also thank Hockey India, SAI and Odisha Govt for their continued support for the Indian women’s team. We have many more targets to achieve and this milestone has only motivated me more to keep going strong,” said Savita as she received the 250th milestone jersey from Chief Coach Janneke Schopman.
Congratulating Savita, Hockey India President Dr. Dilip Tirkey said,”Savita has been a pillar of strength for Indian Women’s Hockey, standing strong in the goalpost. I congratulate her on completing this incredible milestone of completing 250 International Caps. She has been a huge inspiration to an entire generation of aspiring hockey players. I wish her the best in taking Indian Women’s Hockey to new heights.”
Nikki Pradhan made her International debut during the South Africa Tour held in 2016 and since then has represented the country in many important tournaments. The Jharkhand-born player also became the first female hockey player from her state to represent India at the Olympics when she took part in the Rio Olympics 2016. She was also part of the Tokyo Olympics 2020 squad.
The 29-year-old has been part of some notable victories including the gold medal in the Women’s Asia Cup in 2017, and silver in the 2018 Women’s Asian Champions Trophy. Nikki also donned the Indian colours during the Commonwealth Games 2018 and the Hockey Women’s World Cup London 2018. She was also part of the Indian team that won a historic silver medal at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta-Palembang and was also part of the team’s victory in the FIH Women’s Series Finals Hiroshima 2019.
Nikki also played a vital role in India’s campaign against the United States in the FIH Olympic Qualifiers where India earned their ticket to Tokyo and in the inaugural FIH Women’s Nations Cup in Spain in 2022, where India won the gold medal.
“I am extremely happy and proud to complete 150 international caps for India. It is no less than a dream for me to represent my country at the grandest of stages. It was an absolute honour for me to play at the Rio Olympics and Tokyo Olympics. I have had a good run with the national side and the journey so far has been mesmerising. It’s a crucial year for us with many major events lined up, hence, I am aiming to continue giving my best on the field and help my team attain greater heights and win laurels in the near future,” an ecstatic Nikki Pradhan was quoted as saying by Hockey India.
Congratulating the defender on completing 150 International Caps, Hockey India President Padma Shri Dr. Dilip Tirkey said, “Nikki has come a long way since making her India debut in 2015 and it’s because of her sheer hard work. She has matured as a player in the last few years and has been instrumental in the team’s success.
“By becoming the first woman hockey player from Jharkhand to take part in the Olympics, she not only made history but also became an inspiration for young players from her state. On behalf of Hockey India, I wish her the very best as well as congratulate her on achieving this incredible feat,” he said.