India were brilliant in the recently-concluded Champions Trophy, which comprised some quality teams, like Germany and Great Britain, and finished runners up to Australia. They, however, looked below par against Germany in their first game of the six-nation tournament, losing 4-0, but came back strongly in their next match to defeat Ireland.
India need to use this win as a launching pad for the remainder of the matches in the six-nation competition as Sardar Singh and his men face New Zealand in a crucial encounter on Thursday. India presently lie on fourth place in the standings.
The problem with India in this competition has been their slow start, which has led to their downfall. The key to such matches are good starts, which can help the team gain control of the game, and help them walk away with favourable results, and top teams like Australia and Germany are masters in the strategy. There is no dearth of quality in the India ranks, but the players need to find their rhythm early, and coach Roelant Oltmans is also aware of it.
"We started off slow today (against Ireland), much like yesterday, but quickly came back and found our rhythm. The good thing is we played strongly once we took the lead and had several chances to secure the game, an area we need to work on," Hockey India's official website quoted Oltmans as saying.
Oltmans' team, if they are able to hit the ground running early, and play their usual attacking game mixed with flair, should defeat New Zealand, who are yet to taste victory in the competition. New Zealand have lost their first two matches to Spain and Germany, but India cannot afford to take them lightly.
Both the teams are using this competition as preparations for Rio Olympics, and neither has had a great tournament so far. With India and New Zealand keen to perform better, and increase their confidence ahead of quadrennial event, an interesting match is on the cards.
Where to watch live
India vs New Zealand match is scheduled for 9:30 p.m IST. There is no live TV coverage of the match in India, but hockey fans can watch the game live online on Hockey New Zealand official website.
The live updates will be available on Hockey India's official twitter account.