India, the only Asian team in the prestigious World Hockey League final, has a point to prove. Eight times Olympic champion, India takes on the defending champions Australia, in the second game of the opening day at Kalinga Stadium in Bubaneshwar on Friday.
For new coach of the home team, Sjoerd Marijne, the World Hockey League, is the first real test as top eight of the nine teams are competing in the Bubaneshwar tournament. Though India won the Asia Cup at Dhaka under Sjoerd Marijne, the real test starts when it takes on Australia. “We are looking forward to this match,” says the Coach, maintaining that he was “really happy with the performance of the team at Dhaka. This tournament is different as we play against five best teams of the world.This is much bigger than Asia Cup.”
While talking about Sardar Singh, he says “We will try Rupinderpal Singh, Birendra Lakra and Harmanpreet Singh in that role. We have seen Sardar’s game, now we need to see others game as well. We are searching for the right combination.”
Australians have a new coach in Colin Batch, who earlier remained with the New Zealand, the only team in top nine that is not playing at Bubaneshwar. New Zealand is ranked eighth, while Spain placed at position ninth, plays in the final.
The games will witness not only fierce competition but also exciting hockey as the battle for supremacy between penalty corners and field goals will continue unabated.
Germany takes on England in the game before India-Australia encounter.
Teams for opening day’s game:
Australia : Daniel Beale, Tristan Clemons, Jeremy Edward, Blake Govers, Jeremy Hayward, Jake Harvie, Aaron Kleinschmeidt, Mark Knowles, Tyler Lovell, Edward Ockendan, Lachlan Sharp, Mathew Swann, Jacob Whetton, Tristen White, Tom Wickham, Dylan Wotherspoon and Aran Zolewski.
India : Akash Chikte, Shinglen, Utthappa, Sumit, Kothajit, SV Sunil, Akashdeep Singh, Mandeep Singh, Lalit Upadhayay, Gurjan Singh Virk.