Australia hockey series will set pattern for HWL Final: Oltmans

Raipur, Nov 16 (IANS) India chief coach Roelant Oltmans on Monday said the three-match hockey test series against Australia that starts on Thursday will give them a good platform to be in good stead ahead of the Hero Hockey World League (HWL) Final to be played here from November 27 to December 6.

The India-Australia series will begin on Thursday with the first match in Rajnandgaon and consecutive matches at Raipur on Sunday and Monday. The HWL Final here will immediately follow the test series with the world’s top eight teams meeting each other for the last time before the 2016 Rio Olympics.

“We are excited to be in Raipur. The team has been together for more than a month at the camp in Bengaluru and has been showing good results in the practice sessions,” Oltmans said in a release after his team arrived here.

“The coaching staff has been working really hard along with the team and the test series against Australia will set the pattern for the Hero Hockey World League Final. We wish to put up a good show in front of the home crowd,” added the Indian hockey’s high performance director.

In the HWL Final, alongwith India, Argentina, Britain, Canada, Belgium, Australia, Germany and the Netherlands will vie for top honours at the event organised by the International Hockey Federation (FIH).

India have been grouped with reigning Olympic champions Germany, the Netherlands and Argentina in Pool B while current World Champions Australia, Belgium, Britain and Canada are in Pool A.

India captain Sardar Singh reckoned “home support” will be a big factor.

“We are glad that the tournaments are happening in our backyard it will give us more time to get used to the pitch and home support will also be a big factor. The boys are positive and enthusiastic and are looking forward to playing in both the tournaments,” the talismanic midfielder said.

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