Focus on defence as Indian men’s hockey team faces formidable Australia in 3rd

ADELAIDE, Nov 29:  The Indian men’s hockey team will look to address its defensive woes when it takes on world’s number one side Australia in the third Test here on Wednesday, hoping to bounce back from back-to-back defeats in the five-match series here on Wednesday.

A series of defensive lapses saw world number five India go down in the first two Tests despite taking early lead and this will be area which the team will need to improve in the third match.

India conceded a last-minute goal to lose the opening Test 4-5. In the second game, they were leading through skipper Harmanpreet Singh’s third-minute goal but were blown away in the final quarter to go down 4-7.

This series is crucial for both the teams as it’s a part of preparations for the World Cup in Bhubaneswar and Rourkela in Odisha, starting January 13.

“We have gone through the errors we have made in the first two matches. Australia is so quick in converting from the set plays even if they find the slightest of gaps, hence we must structure our defence better,” Harmanpreet said.

Both matches were fiercely fought with India and Australia going full throttle in their attack. They have utilized speed to their advantage and have scored a total of 20 goals in just two matches.

The two matches also saw many penalty corners being traded between both teams.

“When it is high-scoring matches and both teams are going full steam in their attack, one too many penalty corners are created,” Harmanpreet said.

“While we have managed to create penalty corners and also score from it, we have given away quite a few PCs as well which need to be curtailed in the upcoming matches.”

The series is the first meeting between the two teams after Australia thrashed India 7-0 in the CWG final in Birmingham.

Talking about the takeaways from the two games, Harmanpreet said, “Good interception and counter attacks continue to be our plus point. We have also been on par with Australia in terms of speed and fitness.

“We have started the matches well, scoring goals in the first quarter itself. Some of the young players playing against Australia for the first time like Mohd Raheel and Sukhjeet have also done well to perform under pressure.

“I think we have gained some rich experience playing against such a quality team in the lead up to the World Cup in January and look forward to the remaining three matches.”  (PTI)