FIH Hockey Champions Trophy 2016: India's fixtures - Preview, Timings & TV Information
Match 1: India vs Germany – June 10, 2016
Defending champions Germany will look to claim the title for the 11th time as their 2016 campaign sets sail at London. India’s opening tie, which happens to be the tournament opener, pits them against the Germans on Friday.
Although ranked four places behind the Olympic gold medallists, India should go all out offensive to try and get the better of their intimidating opponents. Their Hockey World League Finals encounter last November had ended in a 1-1 draw in which India had conceded early but then bounced back during the final quarter courtesy of an Akashdeep Singh equaliser. As encouraging as it gets, Akashdeep has just returned to the Indian side after sitting out the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh, Malaysia.
Match 2: India vs Great Britain – June 11, 2016
Host nation Great Britain’s best finish came in 2010 when they replicated their 1985 runner-up performance in Germany’s Monchengladbach. With India, they certainly have a score to settle from last year’s Hockey World League Final in Raipur.
Despite having topped Pool A and India’s bottom position in Pool B, their quarter-final clash turned out to be an upset which India sealed 2-1 in their favour. Goalscorers Raghunath and Talwinder will have to put up a similar display at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre if they are to seize another tie from the Britishers’ grip this time around.
Match 3: India vs Belgium – June 13, 2016
The third match is between the two countries to have arrived at London following an invitation by the FIH Executive Board. With a day’s gap in between, both teams will be raring to have a go at each other when the fresh legs take the field on Monday.
The last of the world’s present day Top 5, Belgium spoiled India’s party by edging past them in the semi-finals of HWL 2014-15. Quite a lot has transpired since then and India looks a much tighter unit today – couldn’t have asked for a better time for an opportunity to avenge their past failure against the confident Belgians.
Match 4: India vs Korea – June 14, 2016
For Korea, the Champions Trophy holds no preparatory purpose since they are not headed for the Rio Olympics. Although they are the only side in the tournament ranked lower than India by the FIH, recent form is a clear indicator that India cannot afford complacency under any circumstances.
Two 2-2 results between the sides in the 2015 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup meant a winner couldn’t be decided in regulation time. India’s tie-breaker win fetched them third place back then, but in London, they need to draw maximum points from this contest due to the relative superiority of every other contender at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
Match 5: India vs Australia – June 16, 2016
The final group stage clash against Australia promises to be the mightiest challenge for the Indians.
India managed to rid themselves of the ‘minnows’ tag with some brilliant hockey in the past few years, including a test series win over World No. 1 Australia on their home turf. However, when they met in Ipoh at the 2016 Sultan Azlan Shah Tournament in April, the outcome cried a different story.
In the same event which saw India rout arch-rivals Pakistan 5-1 and hosts Malaysia 6-1, they were handed massive defeats (5-1 and 4-0) by the Kookaburras. Whether Sreejesh’s return to protecting the goalpost and Raghunath’s presence in defence changes India’s fortune in this Champions Trophy is something all fans are eager to find out.
TV Channel: Star Sports, Star Sports HD, Doordarshan
Time [India’s group stage matches]: 08:30 pm IST