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Indian men's hockey team faces 'litmus test' against Australia ahead of Paris

Indian men's hockey team will play five matches against Australia ahead of the upcoming 2024 Paris Olympics.

Indian mens hockey team faces litmus test against Australia ahead of Paris

FILE PHOTO: Indian men's hockey team defeated Japan in the semifinals of the Asian Champions Trophy 2023.


Pritish Raj

Published: 5 April 2024 4:24 PM GMT

Indian men's hockey team will take on Australia in a five-match test series and will look to pass the 'litmus test' against a team that constantly troubles them.

The series will be the drawing board for the team management and head coach Craig Fulton to find his best combination and identify the weakness to work on.

"We have planned different things to counter the Australian team and their strategies. This series will work as the perfect drawing board for us," head coach Craig Fulton told The Bridge ahead of their departure for Australia this week.

"Our focus will be in executing our game plan and adapting to the challenges posed by the Australian side in different match situations," he added further.

The away assignment offers the ideal chance for India to break their decade-long dry spell against Australia and secure a Test series win. Notably, India won the last away Test series against back in 2014.

Led by Harmanpreet Singh, a 27-member squad has traveled to Australia and will play five test matches from 6th April to 13th April.

The Indian squad is coming on the back of some impressive performances in the FIH Pro League against the Netherlands, Australia, Spain and Ireland.

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.

Talking about the upcoming tour, forward Abhishek said,"We know Australia is a tough team and they have got better of us in past but if you look at the Pro League matches, we gave them tough fight."

India lost a very entertaining goal scoring fest 4-6 against Australia in the first Pro League match and then held them 2-2 in the second match.

Squad headache for Craig Fulton

Apart from the Australian challenge, another challenge for the players will be to fix their place in the Olympics squad and challenge for head coach Fulton will be to narrow down on the final 16 players.

Among the 27-member squad traveling to Australia, young forwards Araijeet Singh Hundal, Boby Singh Dhami, and Raheel will be fighting for a spot in the final 16 against the experienced names of Akashdeep Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, and Dilpreet Singh.

Indian midfield looks settled more or less with Vivek Sagar Prasad, veteran Manpreet Singh, and vice captain Hardik Singh forming the trio. Same is the case with defence as Harmanpreet Singh, Jarmanpreet Singh, Amit Rohidas, Sanjay and Sumit already making the stable backline.

Fulton's main headache will come in selecting the goalkeeper between Krishan Bahadur Pathak and veteran PR Sreejesh. Due to squad restrictions of 16 players at Olympics, only goalkeeper is named in the main squad.

While Krishan Pathak has displayed his reflexes and agility in the goal, PR Sreejesh keeps dishing out exceptional performance every time he takes the field.

In nutshell, the five test matches against Australia will be very crucial for the Indian hockey players and coach alike.

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