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Rashmi Ranjan

Defender Birendra Lakra, who played starring role in the Indian hockey team's historic bronze medal-winning Tokyo Olympics campaign, announced international retirement on Thursday. 

Hockey India (HI) confirmed Lakra's retirement in a tweet.

"A solid defender and one of the most influential Indian Men's Hockey Team figures, the Odisha star has announced his retirement from the Indian national team. Happy Retirement, Birendra Lakra," HI tweeted.

Earlier in the day, drag-flicker Rupinder Pal Singh has also announced his international retirement with immediate effect "to make way for youngsters".

It has been learnt from reliable sources that both the players decided to quit after they were informed that they will not find place in India's scheme of things going forward and will be ignored for the national camp that starts in Bengaluru next week.

The 31-year-old Lakra was one of the vice captains of India's bronze medal-winning side in Tokyo.

Lakra, who was born on February 3, 1990 in Lachchada village in Sundergarh district of Odisha, played 201 matches for India.

A reliable centre-back known for his calm and composed attitude when put under pressure, Lakra made his debut in 2012 in a Test series against South Africa and was part of the Indian team that finished last in the 2012 London Games.

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