After a pulsating draw between India and Pakistan in the ongoing Hockey World League semi-final in Antwerp, Belgium, the men in blue will face table-toppers Australia on Sunday.
The Australians have been the best team in Group A so far with thrashing victories over Pakistan, Poland and France. They have come with a strong squad to Belgium and their performances have showed their pure strength in defeating teams including Pakistan (6-1) and France (10-0).
With such scoreline, India have reasons to fear the Aussies, who are favourite to clinch the Hockey World League semi-final. But on Sunday, India will face them with their head held high as they have not lost a single game in the group stages so far.
The Indian team are aware of the biggest test, which lie ahead in the tournament. They will draw inspiration from their last victory against Australia during the Azlan Shah Cup, which they won 4-2. They were impressive during the game and a similar performance can hand the Australians their first loss of the tournament.
If one goes by current form and their rankings, Australia are favourites to defeat India, who are slowly getting in terms with coach Paul van Ass' style of total hockey. India are ranked ninth while Australia are number one.
India needs to come up with their best performance against the Australians. Despite Australia being favourites, if India plays well on the day, they can top the group. At present, Australia with three wins out of three stand at the top of the table with nine points, while India are second and Pakistan third.
Even if India lose to Australia, they can still hang on to their second position depending on Pakistan's result over France and the goal difference.
The Indian team under Van Ass are an aggressive side which will give it their all to win the game. And with the Australians playing an attacking style of hockey, the game promises to be an entertaining one.
The Australians use their pace to good effect and have found teams on the back foot in the tournament. They have some big players in their team including Jamie Dwyer and the Govers brothers, who can harm team India.
On an individual basis, India too have some good players such as Ramandeep Singh, who scored a brace against Pakistan, Walmiki brothers and Sardar Singh, who will play an integral part at the heart of the midfield for India.
Sardar Singh, India's skipper needs to be strong in intercepting those swift Australian passes and convert those intercepts into counter attacks.
India also need a way to get their act going when they receive a penalty corner. Paul van Ass' wants India to put away those penalty corners in the back of the net.
"They have to create and convert the penalty corners. Also when they attack the D they have to capitalise on the chances that they create. What was missing yesterday (against Pakistan) was that we missed on the vital passes which would have helped us to score. The boys understand this and they know they have to work on this immediately," Hockey India official website quoted Van Ass as saying.
Where to Watch Live
The Hockey World League semi-final clash between India and Australia is scheduled for 4pm local time (7:30pm IST, 12am Australian time, 3pm BST) with live TV coverage in India on Star Sports 1 and Star Sports 1 HD with live streaming option on starsports.com. Australian viewers can catch the action live on Fox Sports and Foxtel.
Audience in Pakistan can catch the game live on PTV.
Ireland and the UK viewers can follow it live on Sky Sports, with the live stream option on Sky Sports.
Viewers in Belgium can watch the game live on Telenet.