India men's hockey team will face its first real test in the Commonwealth Games, after winning the first two matches against Wales and Scotland rather comfortably, when they take on Australia at the Glasgow National Hockey Center on Tuesday.
India will be aiming to keep their winning momentum going but beating the Kookaburras is going to be a colossal task for them. The memories of the 2010 CWG in Delhi is still very much alive, when Australia hammered India 8-0 in the final to clinch the gold medal.
Australia are number one in the FIH rankings and come into the tournament after winning their third World Cup title at The Hague. They also defeated India 4-0 in the group stages, but skipper Sardar Singh insisted the players are under no pressure ahead of this crucial match.
"The team is under no pressure when they will be facing the opponents tomorrow as the boys are high on self-belief," Sardar insisted on Monday. "Post the World Cup our main area that needed improvement was the penalty corner conversions."
Indian players looked rusty in their 3-0 win over Wales but came out in flying colours against hosts Scotland to beat them 6-2. The Indian captain praised drag flickers VR Raghunath and Rupinder Pal Singh and Sardar added that he is confident going into the big game against Australia.
"In the last two matches the boys have shown remarkable improvement and both VR Raghunath and Rupinder Pal Singh look in great form," he said. "I am excited on our clash against Australia tomorrow and confident to deliver a good fight."
India have shown massive improvements in recent tournaments and at the World Cup they gave a tough fight to teams like England and Belgium. Coach Terry Walsh said the game against the reigning champions will show how much the team have improved.
"The Australian round game gives us another opportunity to test ourselves in the areas we believe we have improved," Walsh said. "The opponent will test our belief in our abilities. The game will be fast, open and full of tests for individuals and our team.
"I am confident that our performance will show significant measures of improvement. It is a contest we are all very keen to play. However, we also understand that this game is a round game in tournament where the first objective is to gather the necessary points to play in the semi finals."
India Squad: Goalkeeper: PR Sreejesh (vice-captain)
Defenders: Gurbaj Singh, Birendra Lakra, Rupinder Pal Singh, Kothajit Singh, VR Raghunath
Midfielders: Dharamvir Singh, Sardar Singh (c), Danish Mujtaba, Chinglensana Singh Kangujam and Manpreet Singh
Forwards: Ramandeep Singh, Akashdeep Singh, SV Sunil, Gurwinder Singh Chandi and Nikkin Thimmaiah
Where to Watch Live
The first match, between India and Australia, is scheduled for a 2:00 pm local time (6:30 pm IST) start, with Live coverage in India is on Ten Sports and live streaming option HERE and HERE. The action will be available live on CBS Sports in Canada with online streaming option HERE.
BBC will telecast the games live in the United Kingdom, with live streaming option HERE or follow the updates HERE. Network Ten will broadcast the matches live in Australia with an online viewing option HERE. For International viewers, including the United States, the action will be available live on official Commonwealth Games 2014 YouTube channel for free HERE.