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Olympics 2021: India vs Australia men's hockey preview, head-to-head & prediction

Another India-Australia classic on the cards Image Ctsy: Hockey India
Another India-Australia classic on the cards Image Ctsy: Hockey India
FEATURED COLUMNIST

Both India and Australia came from behind to register wins in their respective Group A opening matches of the field hockey competition at the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday.

The formidable Kookaburras, who were down 2-3 against Japan at half-time, restored parity and a fair bit of sanity to the proceedings following the long whistle, winning 5-3. Meanwhile, the Indians trailed New Zealand 0-1 before rallying hard to end the contest with a 3-2 scoreline in their favor.

The vulnerability of Colin Batch's current team was exposed in their opener against the lower-ranked Japan, while the Indians did well to keep the marauding Black Sticks at bay in the latter stages of the contest.

Recovery will be key for both teams given the extremely hot and humid weather conditions in Tokyo. Sunday's fixture, scheduled to begin at 1830 hours local time, will be a big relief for both sides who were stretched on a sun-drenched pitch in their openers.

The Indian PC battery will be raring to have a go at the Aussies after striking form early in the tournament. Although the Indian defense was tidy against New Zealand, they will have to tighten a couple of notches against Australia's quality attack.

Blake Govers converted a short corner against Japan and Sreejesh will clearly remember the Aussie specialist's slow flick that foxed him in the Champions Trophy final of 2018.

On Saturday, Graham Reid's boys allowed the Kiwis a lot more ball possession (51%) than they would have thought ideal. The coach would know quite well what the Australians are capable of when they have the ball to themselves.

Over the last four decades, the Australians have always begun as favorites against India. However, a rejuvenated Indian side now has the potential to tilt the scales against one of the best hockey sides of the modern era.

The match begins at 1500 IST on Sunday, July 25. The live action will be streamed on Sony Liv, across the Sony Sports Network and on Doordarshan in India.

Check out the Tokyo Olympics Medal Tally.


FIH Rankings:

Australia – 1

India - 4

Overall Head to Head:

Matches: 128

Australia: 85

India: 22

Drawn: 21

Olympic Head to Head:

Matches: 10

Australia: 5

India: 3

Drawn: 2


Prediction:

Both India and Australia dislike being shackled, preferring instead to engage in speedy forays, often turning defense into attack in a few seconds. Expect a high-scoring humdinger in this group encounter with both teams in a positive frame of mind.

Score Prediction: India 3 - Australia 3


Edited by SANJAY K K

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