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India meet Australia, their bogey team

Fulton’s men will play five matches Down Under in ‘litmus test’

India meet Australia, their bogey team

India have beaten Australia 8 times in 43 meetings since 2013. File



Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 5

India are entering the final phase of their preparations for the Paris Olympics and coach Craig Fulton could not have asked for a better matchup to gauge his team’s strengths and weaknesses.

No other team has tormented India more than Australia in the last two decades. The rivalry has been among the most talked about, albeit glaringly skewed in Australia’s favour, in men’s hockey.

Of the 43 encounters between the two teams since 2013, Australia have emerged victorious 28 times, while India have won just eight games, with seven draws. Despite its lop-sided nature, the rivalry has seen many high-scoring fixtures, the most recent being Australia’s come-from-behind 6-4 win in the Pro League in February.

The last time India toured Australia, in 2022, the five-game series witnessed 42 goals. Though India won just one game, they came close in the other matches before eventually losing. This time, India will be looking to convert the close encounters into victories, which will require them to maintain their intensity and discipline for close to 60 minutes.

They will have extra motivation — India have not won a Test series in Australia since 2014. Moreover, the two teams have been drawn in the same group in the Paris Olympics. And with Paris in mind, this series will be perfect for Fulton to test his plans against the only team India failed to beat in their home Pro League matches earlier this year.

In their eight games, India had three wins and one loss in regulation time, along with two wins and two losses in shootouts. World No. 4 India were tested the most by No. 5 Australia. The Kookaburras’ high-intensity attacking game put India’s newly-adopted deep-defending playing style under immense pressure.

India can expect more of the same in Perth. Fulton, who likes to build his team off a solid defence, will be eager to see how his side deal with the Australian barrage while being creative and efficient in attack.

“This series serves as a litmus test for our team’s preparedness ahead of the Paris Olympics,” Fulton said. “We aim to fine-tune our strategies and identify areas for improvement to ensure we are in peak form for the mega event. Our focus will be on executing our game plan effectively and adapting to the challenges posed by the Australian side,” he added.

India will have the services of top mental trainer Paddy Upton for the series. The tour will also test the players physically — with five matches played over eight days, the series will be ideal to prepare for the hectic schedule of the Olympics. The series will also help Fulton, who has taken 27 players on the tour, finalise his squad for the Olympics. The Test series will be followed by India’s European tour, comprising eight matches of the Pro League in May-June.

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#Australia #Craig Fulton #Hockey


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