Men's FIH Series Finals: India vs Russia preview, prediction, telecast, date, start time and where to watch online
Armed with a new coach, who was not appointed until after the Azlan Shah Cup which was held in late March, the fifth-best side in the world are all set to begin their FIH Series Finals campaign against an outfit they are not particularly well acquainted with.
In the 2015 Men's EuroHockey Championships - which also serves as the Olympic qualifiers, the Russians finished last among eight teams and were hence relegated to the second rung of the competition where they finished fourth in 2017.
Incidentally, it was France - the side which caused quite a stir by reaching the quarterfinals of Odisha 2018 - who beat the Russians to end up third in the classification match of the EuroHockey Championships II.
Coach Graham Reid is intent on treating the Russians with respect, especially since the first match of a tournament can be tricky - more so, for a team who have not played much international hockey this year.
An unfortunate loss to South Korea in the finals of the Azlan Shah Cup was followed by a tour to Australia in which the Indians had mixed results in the warm-up games but were beaten comprehensively by the kookaburras in both the Test matches.
Although the Russians, who are currently ranked 22nd, are unlikely to pose a serious threat to Manpreet Singh and co., the Indians can ill afford to be complacent in the lung opener which may well set the tone for the rest of the competition.
Ramandeep Singh, who sustained an injury during the Champions Trophy encounter against Pakistan will be playing his first international since limping off the pitch at Breda last June while Rupinder Singh who missed the World Cup will be hoping to regain his magic touch with the drag flicks.
Here is how you can catch all the action:
Event: Men's FIH Series Finals 2019
Venue: Bhubaneswar, India
Date: 6 June 2019
Time: 7 pm Indian Standard Time (IST)
Telecast: Star Sports, Star Sports HD
Live Streaming: Hotstar, FIH Live
Graham Reid has asserted that he would like his chargers to play aggressively and put pressure on the opposition with a high press.
Given the fact that the Indians are up against a relatively unknown side, it will be interesting to see if they do choose to commit men forward early on, but the crowd at the Kalinga Stadium can certainly look forward to a goal fest once the home team settles in.