India have a tough encounter against Australia in their opening match of the Hockey World League Final on Friday. India will hope to start things in Bhubaneswar on a bright note against world no 2 Aussies, who are one of the title contenders.
India, no doubt, are a wonderful bunch of players, led by Manpreet Singh. They have it in them to beat Australia, and can be a tough nut to crack with the home support behind them.
India come into this tournament after an impressive result in the Asia Cup, where they were crowned champions, but the home team is aware of Australia being a different breed altogether.
Star players like Rupinder Pal Singh, Mandeep Singh, SK Uthappa, SV Sunil and Akashdeep Singh have to be on top of their game against the Kangaroos. Besides looking to score in penalty corners, they should try and split open Australia's defence in open play and score field goals.
This is going to be India's coach Sjoerd Marijn's first real test, but is prepared for it.
"The Asia Cup win is just the beginning, and we are looking forward to the first match. We worked for a month for this match. The intensity will be high. It's a challenge playing Australia and that's how we see it. Over the last one month, we worked on our fitness level. What was important was to make our structure perfect. The team is realistic and I am a realistic person. It's good we are in one line." Hindustan Times quoted Marijn as saying.
Australia, on the other hand, are the title-holders. They know how to win battles even in the toughest of conditions. Australia will be desperate to deliver the goods in the Hockey World League Final after a disappointing Rio Olympics campaign, where they faltered in the quarterfinals. They will keep their focus on winning the title, let alone beating India in the first match.
With experienced stars such as Mark Knowles leading Australia and Eddie Ockenden, Jake Whetton and Mathew Swann in their ranks, they are going to be the team to beat.
Where to watch live
India vs Australia match is scheduled for 7:30 pm IST start. Here is the live TV and streaming options.
India: TV: Star Sports 1/HD; Live streaming: Hotstar
Australia: TV: Fox Sports; Live streaming: Foxtel Watch
Argentina: ESPN Sur, YouTube PPV
Rest of World: YouTube PPV