Adelaide, Nov 25 (SocialNews.XYZ) World No. 5 India will take on No.1 side Australia in a five-match fixture starting in Adelaide from Saturday, in what is being pegged as a blockbuster series between the powerhouses of international hockey.
The two teams have been toe-to-toe in their recent performances and have met twice since 2020 -- at the Tokyo Olympic Games where India finished with a historic bronze and Australia with a silver. They also met in the final of the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games where Australia clinched gold.
On the eve of the series, India chief coach Graham Reid said, "There is no better place to come than Australia for preparation for the World Cup.
"Australia's way of play is very grounded in India. What's great about this series is that both teams get to learn about the different skills that both bring to the table," Reid added during a pre-match press conference in Adelaide.
With the FIH Men's World Cup 2023 Bhubaneswar-Rourkela less than 50 days away, captain Harmanpreet Singh highlighted that each match against Australia will prove vital in their preparations for the marquee event at home.
"This series is really important for us. When you are preparing for a mega event like the World Cup, it's always good to play against the best in the lead up," said the ace drag-flicker who will be the cynosure of India's penalty corner attack.
He further stated his excitement of playing in Adelaide. "It is great to be in Australia after so many years' gap. Due to Covid, we couldn't travel here, there are many passionate Indian hockey fans here and we always love playing in front of them. I am looking forward to good matches here," Harmanpreet said.
Colin Batch, Australia's head coach, said, "This series is really important for us coming up to the World Cup in January. It's great that India are here. We love playing against them and this will be great competition for us.
"It will be great competition for us. India is a really strong team and these will be the only matches we will play before the World Cup, so we're delighted to have a team of India's calibre to play against," added Batch.
"We feel like we can take some strong steps in our preparation for the World Cup. Unlike the Olympics where we had 6-7 months training together, we haven't had that leading up to the World Cup so the importance of these matches, the meetings and trainings we have between now and then will hopefully enable us to reach that level again," Batch opined.
India vs Australia: Match days -- November 26, 27, 30, December 3, 4.