India played some brilliant hockey in the Asian Champions Trophy, where they emerged victorious, but the competition in the upcoming four-nation tournament will be a tough affair. Australia, Malaysia and New Zealand are the other three teams in the competition.
India and Australia will battle it out for a bright start in Melbourne on Wednesday. This match against the world number one team is going to be their biggest test.The visitors have the goods to deliver in the four-nation hockey competition.
With PR Sreejesh rested for the competition, India have decided to hand over the captain's charge to the experienced drag-flicker, VR Raghunath. However, it would not come as a surprise if different members of the team lead against different countries as was witnessed in the Asian Champions Trophy.
Irrespective of who leads the side, their motive will be lifting the title. And for that they need a good start against Australia, who are the favourites. With the Aussies playing in front of their home fans, they are going to be serious contenders.
In the absence of Sreejesh, Akash Chikte will be under the bar for India. The goalkeeper was splendid in the Asian Champions Trophy, and he will be kept busy by some dangerous Aussie players.
However, it is the midfield comprising Manpreet Singh, Sardar Singh and SK Uthappa, who will have to be on top of their toes against Australia. They will have to provide those perfect balls to forwards like Talwinder Singh, Akashdeep Singh and Nikkin Thimmaiah to score goals.
More than the forwards, India will depend on Raghunath and in-form drag-flick expert Rupinder Pal Singh to convert his chances from penalty corners. Overall, against a team like Australia, India will have to come up with a team effort to emerge victorious.
Where to watch live
India vs Australia hockey match is scheduled to start at 8 pm local time (2:30 pm IST). There is no live TV coverage in India. Australia viewers can watch the game on Fox Sports 4, with live streaming on Foxtel Play.
You can also click here for live streaming of the match.