After a couple of days of well-deserved rest, silver-medalists India will face their toughest test thus far as they take on defending champions Australia in their third match of the Champions Trophy. India started their campaign beating old rivals Pakistan comprehensively by a 4-0 margin in the opening encounter.
Winning the second match was even more significant, however, as Argentina had beaten India in the HWL last December and in the Azlan Shah Cup in March, but the Olympic champions succumbed against Harendra Singh's determined unit. Not even Gonzalo Peillat, the master drag-flicker could prevent India from registering a 2-1 win.
In stark contrast, the World champions led by Eddie Ockenden have not looked particularly impressive thus far. The Aussies had lost to Belgium in Rio a couple of years ago and managed to salvage a 3-3 draw against the Red Lions in their first match at Breda.
In their second match, Colin Batch's side looked distinctly shaky in defense as they allowed Pakistan to take the lead in the first quarter and had to wait until the final quarter to find the winning goal. The Aussies who are aiming to win their 15th Champions Trophy title were lucky to have earned 3 points beating Pakistan 2-1. Roelant Oltmans' side may have even won the match had it not been for some wayward shooting in front of an open goal.
The Aussies seem to be missing former captain Mark Knowles in defense who retired after the Commonwealth Games, and India will be keen to exploit the slightest of weaknesses against a side they have lost to 81 times thus far.
Ramandeep Singh has been ruled out of the tournament due to a full-thickness chondral fracture to his right knee. While his absence will hurt the forward-line for sure, the men up front have already scored more field goals in two matches than they did in the entire tournament at Gold Coast and India's defense looks secure and solid as well.
That said, the Aussies have a history of coming at India hard and the encounter tomorrow promises to be nothing less than a humdinger.
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Event: FIH Men's Champions Trophy
Venue: Breda, Holland
Date: 27 June 2018
Time: 6:30 pm Indian Standard Time (IST)
Telecast: Star Sports 1, Star Sports HD1
Live Streaming: Hotstar
Live Updates: SportskeedaPublished 26 Jun 2018, 20:49 IST