A day after India thrashed Australia on the cricket field, their counterparts in hockey would hope to repeat the feat at the National Stadium in the capital as the two teams face off in the final of the Commonwealth Games on Thursday.
After a slow start to the tournament with a narrow 3-2 win against Malaysia and a 5-2 loss to the Kookaburras, India scripted a remarkable comeback to guarantee themselves a shot at winning the gold.
And yet some persisting problems will need to be addressed before locking horns with a team that is yet to lose a CWG match.
Defense for instance will need to minimize its errors to starve the Aussies of goal scoring chances. Wide gaps for creative forays into their half had left India shell-shocked in the league match. Since then, the defence has made subtle improvement qlthough Vikram Pillay is suffering from a sore back and Dhananjay Mahadik continues to be tentative at best in the face of stiff challenge. They will have to guard themselves against any complacency during the match, especially in the initial and finishing stages.
This holds true especially as the team from down under have the firepower to play at lightening speeds for the entire 70 minutes of a match. And as their skipper Jamie Dwyer puts it, fitness is something his team takes significant pride in. “India is a quality side and underestimating them because of past records would be foolish. But I am sure we can outpace them in the game if we try hard enough,” he said.
Though fitness has not been a shining attribute of the Indian team, expect more than just a few sparks to fly when they attempt to raise the bar higher to match Aussie stick work and stamina.