Indian men possibly face their toughest test when they lock horns with Australia at the Dhyan Chand National Stadium today.
While the hosts managed to scrape past a spirited Malaysia to collect full points in their opening tie, Australia, on Wednesday, made their intentions clear with an emphatic 9-0 win over Scotland.
The hosts might choose to take solace in the fact that they are ranked 11 positions above the battered Scottish side, but mercy is an attribute that cannot be associated with the team that has won gold in all editions since hockey was introduced in 1998.
Scotland made this blunder and paid heavily. Capitalizing on a flurry of penalty corners in the first half, Australia, led by fullback Luke Doerner, struck five times going into half-time.
The second half was equally electric as Rob Hammond, Trent Mitton, Simon Orchard and Des Abboott etched their names on the scoring sheet.
A repeat in front of home supporters can be a major embarrassment for India. Despite registering a win, India have looked far from a side who can gag stronger teams. A sluggish defence can be an open invitation to the Kookaburas to shoot at will, and coach, Jose Brasa, admitted that it is an area that needs to be tightened.
“We will have to fix our defence. The Australians bank on the fact that their forward line overwhelms the opposition. We must not allow this on Thursday," he said.
In any case, India will have to play out of their skins to even salvage a draw.