The Indian team is all geared up to take on England in their next set of FIH Hockey Pro League 2021/22 matches, which are scheduled to take place on April 2 and 3 at the Kalinga Hockey Stadium.
Ahead of the two-legged affair, Indian captain Amit Rohidas spoke about the opposition and emphasised on the need to stick to their plans for the matches.
“They have a lot of young players in the team, and they have come with a lot of motivation,” Rohidas stated at the pre-match virtual press conference. “Each team plays to win matches, so it will certainly be a good challenge for us.”
Rohidas added: “Our focus will be to stick to our plans, just like we did against Argentina. We managed a draw in the first game and won the second game in the last minute. It was a really good performance from the team, so it will be really important to play according to the plans and strategies that we make against our opponents.”
Currently placed second in the FIH Hockey Pro League points table, India has thus far registered five wins and three losses in eight matches.
They have beaten South Africa (10-2, 10-2) and registered mixed results in the double header against France (5-0, 2-5) held in South Africa in February, while in home games, they shared the honours with Spain (5-4, 3-5) and against Argentina they registered 2-2 (1-3 SO) and 4-3 results in a thrilling two-legged tie.
Reflecting on the team’s campaign so far, vice-captain Harmanpreet Singh said, “It’s been going really great from the team’s perspective. Mainly our focus has been to get stronger match by match. We are learning from our mistakes, we are getting to know a lot of new things, so just maintaining that we are making the most out of these Pro League Matches to prepare for the major tournaments. Even younger players are getting chances to play, and in each match, we try to give our best, so it’s really helping the team.”
Meanwhile, England have registered two wins and two losses in four matches so far. They started the campaign with wins against Spain, but are coming off two losses in their matches against Argentina.
Speaking on the eve of the first match, England Captain Tom Sorsby said, “It’s just important that we sort of keep in mind where we are as a group, we are still coming together and finding our ways to build. We showed what we can do against Spain, and even against Argentina we put together some great parts of that game, which weren’t all bad, so just taking the positives that we have from Argentina, with the wins from Spain and will try to put that against India in these two games.”
England Head Coach Zak Jones said that matches against Argentina have prepared his team for the double-header against India.
“I think there are a lot of similarities in the way Argentina and India play, so we feel that the games against Argentina have hopefully, prepared us relatively well for the sort of India play,” said Jones.
Jones added: “We know India are a really good side and they are playing pretty well at the moment, so I think for us it will be to play our game, which is to look after the ball, try and wear them down, play some positive hockey. We’ve got quite a lot of inexperienced players as well, so they have learned a lot from Argentina games and hopefully can bring those learnings in these two games against India.”
India will take on England on 2nd and 3rd April at the iconic Kalinga Hockey Stadium in Bhubaneswar at 1930 hrs IST.
The matches will be live on Star Sports 2 SD + HD and on Disney + Hotstar