India have not been impressive in their first two matches in the ongoing Azlan Shah Cup. Though they defeated Japan in their opening game, they lost to Australia 5-1. There is a serious need for the India players to up their game when they take on Canada in a crucial encounter Sunday.
India have looked good in phases, but their overall play has been disappointing. The forwards have not been able to find the net despite receiving chances to score, and the defence has been split open a number of times with ridiculous ease by opponents.
Though it is understood India have not come with their best team, they should at least get their basics right. The current team seems to be overly reliant on conversion of penalty corners, and needs to find a way to score field goals.
India have stars like Sardar Singh, Ramandeep Singh and SV Sunil, and they need to take responsibility and take their game to the next level to help India emerge triumphant against Canada. However, India should be buoyed with Manpreet Singh's return to the squad, and he is set to play an important role against Canada.
India are currently in yjr sixth spot with three points, but can move up in the table with a win against Canada, who cannot be taken lightly. Canada lost to Pakistan in their first game, but showed great character to hold New Zealand to a 1-1 draw. They defeated Japan 3-1 in their last game, and hence are going to be a confident unit ahead of the clash.
Canada will be keen to exploit India's weak defence, which must be on their toes against the pacy players from Canada. They are brilliant on the counter, and if India defence commit themselves too much up front, India might be found wanting at the back. India coach Roelant Oltmans might want to see forwards like Sunil and Ramandeep use their wizardry to get past Canada's strong defence.
However, another brilliant match is in store for hockey fans as Australia take on Pakistan in what is expected to be a thrilling encounter Sunday. The match is going to take place before the India vs Canada clash. Both teams possess some quality players in their squad, which makes the contest even more interesting.
Australia, without a shadow of doubt, are favourites to clinch the title in Ipoh, Malaysia, as has been understood from their performances so far. Australia defeated India and Malaysia with a similar scoreline — 5-1 — but they are wary of Pakistan, who have it in them to hand them their first defeat.
Australia have some of the fittest players in the competition, and they love taking on the opposition, playing their fluid offensive hockey, and creating those beautiful spaces to score a wonderful field goal. To make their team even more lethal, they have quality drag-flickers to score goals as well.
Pakistan, on the other hand, looked a quality side against Canada, defeating them 3-1, but were outplayed by New Zealand, losing the game 5-3. If Pakistan want to outshine Australia, they need to play consistent hockey throughout the game.
Where to watch live:
The Sultan Azlan Shah Cup 2016 match between India vs Canada is scheduled for 8:35 p.m. local time (6:05 p.m. IST). Viewers in India can watch India vs Canada live on Star Sports 1/HD and Star Sports 3/HD, with live streaming on starsports.com.
The Sultan Azlan Shah Cup match between Pakistan vs Australia is scheduled for 6:05 p.m. local time (3:35 p.m. IST) start. Viewers in India can watch Pakistan vs Australia live on Star Sports 1/HD, with live streaming on starsports.com.