Indian hockey team ready for Australia challenge ahead of Paris 2024 Olympics

The in-form Indian men’s hockey team will look to pass the “litmus test” that the formidable Australian side will pose at home when the two face off in a five-match Test series beginning here on Saturday.

The series offers India a chance to gauge their strengths and capabilities ahead of the Paris Olympics.

“This series serves as a litmus test for our team’s preparedness ahead of the Paris Olympics. We aim to fine-tune our strategies and identify areas for improvement to ensure we are in peak form for the mega event.

“Our focus will be on executing our game plan effectively and adapting to the challenges posed by the Australian side,” chief coach Craig Fulton said.

The away assignment offers the ideal chance for India to break their decade-long dry spell against Australia and secure a Test series win.

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Notably, India won the last away Test series against back in 2014.

Fresh from their impressive performances in the FIH Pro League in February, the Indian squad, under the leadership of Harmanpreet Singh, is approaching this assignment with confidence.

India’s exceptional abilities and unwavering determination were evident as they clinched victories in three out of four matches in Bhubaneswar (within regulation time) and remained unbeaten in Rourkela (also within regulation time). However, they had lost both their matches against Australia.

With the two sides drawn in the same group at the Olympics, the Test series provides the perfect platform for both to gauge each other’s strengths and weaknesses before the ultimate showdown in Paris Games.

“We are geared up for the challenge that lies ahead. Every match is an opportunity for us to showcase our skills and make our nation proud. We are aware of the tough competition Australia presents, but we are confident in our abilities and our preparations,” captain Harmanpreet said.

“As a team, we are united and determined to give our best on the field. Our goal is to not only perform well in this series but also to learn and grow as a unit, laying a strong foundation for our campaign in the Paris Olympics.” India and Australia have clashed on the hockey field a total of 43 times since 2013, according to data from the FIH Data Hub.

Among these match-ups, Australia have emerged victorious 28 times, while India have celebrated triumph in eight games. Additionally, seven matches have concluded in a draw.

With India ranked fourth and Australia fifth in the current world rankings, the stage is set for a gripping battle between two hockey powerhouses.

Match starts 2PM IST.

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