Men's FIH Series Finals: India vs Poland preview, prediction, telecast, date, start time and where to watch online
If the home side's opener was anything to go by, hockey fans in Odisha and elsewhere can expect to be treated to yet another fast-paced and ruthless performance from the Indians when they take the field against Poland this evening.
It was the Russians who very nearly opened the scoring against the run of play, as Graham Reid's dominant Indians failed to find the mark early on with Harmanpreet's powerful drag-flick ricocheting off the post, but it was Nilakanta Sharma's energy and resolve which set the galleries alight at the Kalinga Stadium.
Chinglensana Singh is not part of the Indian squad at Bhubaneswar, but fellow-midfielder and Manipuri compatriot Nilakanta - who made his debut alongside several fledgelings at last year's Azlan Shah Cup - was tireless on the pitch, and helped create a number of chances which had the Russian defence at sixes and sevens.
Ramandeep Singh who made a comeback looked fit and sharp up front even as Mandeep gave the spectators a lot to cheer about with some scintillating runs while Akashdeep's classic edge-of-the-circle tomahawk resulted in the Indian score reaching double figures before the hooter sounded at the Kalinga Stadium.
The Indians had beaten Poland by a 10-0 margin at the Azlan Shah Cup in March but the European side had evidently not had much time to prepare for the event back then after coming in a last-minute replacement for South Africa.
Incredibly enough, the Poles who are currently ranked 21st have recorded some memorable performances against India in the 1980s, including a 1-0 win at the 1986 London World Cup - where the Indians had to settle for the wooden spoon - and a 2-2 draw in the Moscow Olympics where V Bhaskaran led the Indians to their eighth gold.
The Poles recorded an emphatic 4-0 win over minnows Uzbekistan in their first match of the FIH Series Finals, but will need to defend in numbers against an Indian side whose speed and tenacity took the wind out of Russia's sails and snuffed out the early resistance in style.
The Indian defence looked a wee bit shaky especially in the first quarter though, and Graham Reid's chargers will look to make amends this evening.
Here is how you can catch all the action:
Event: Men's FIH Series Finals 2019
Venue: Bhubaneswar, India
Date: 7 June 2019
Time: 7 pm Indian Standard Time (IST)
Telecast: Star Sports, Star Sports HD
Live Streaming: Hotstar
Live Updates: Sportskeeda
The relentless Indian attacks look all set to continue as the strikers will aim for a more clinical display.
The goalmouth fumbles which resulted in a few squandered chances against Russia is an area that Reid's forwards will need to address as they can ill afford to do the same against more established sides later on in the competition.