India could not have been more emphatic in booking their place in the final of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup. Now, they will need to play that little bit better to stand a chance of stopping the Australia juggernaut as the two teams meet in the summit clash in Ipoh on Saturday.
Needing a win to seal their place in the finale, India came out firing to blitz Malaysia, with the final score ending up 6-1 in favour of Sardar Singh's men. India were ruthless in the match on Friday, never allowing Malaysia time to come up for air.
Had it not been for some great goalkeeping and some iffy finishing, India could have easily won the match with a higher margin. The same intensity will be necessary, if India are to trump Australia, a team they lost 5-1 to in the league stages.
Australia have been on a tear in this Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, winning every single one of their six matches to finish six points clear at the top. So, naturally, the Aussies will go into this final as the heavy favourites, which in turn takes the pressure off India.
Coach Roelant Oltmans will hope that lack of pressure allows the India players to express themselves, because as the matches against Pakistan and Malaysia showed, when India play with freedom at the top end of the pitch, they are a joy to watch.
Some of the attacking play against Malaysia was superlative, and if India can take an early lead and pile on the pressure on Australia, you never know, an upset might very well be on the cards.
"I'm pleased to see the energy of the boys," Oltmans was quoted as saying by PTI. "That's what you want to see as a coach. The finals are always special. I want to test and see what our boys will do.
"Australia are the best, there's no doubt about that. But, we hope to give them a good contest."
Where to Watch Live
India vs Australia is scheduled for an 8.45 p.m. local time (6.15 p.m. 10.45 p.m. AEDT) start. Live TV coverage of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup final in India is on Star Sports 1 and Star Sports HD1. The online live streaming options for India vs Australia Sultan Zalan Shah Cup final are Starsports.com.