The Indian hockey team begin its preparation for next month’s International Hockey Federation’s hockey series final with a trip to Australia where they play two matches each against Australia national team and their ‘A’ team. A game against Western Australia Thundersticks club is also scheduled.

Captain of the Indian team Manpreet Singh said that playing against a quality team will boost the confidence of the team and prepare them for the FIH series final scheduled to be held in Bhubaneswar from June 6 to 16.

“Playing a world class team like Australia ahead of the important Series in June will only help build our confidence,” Manpreet said. “We had a good tournament in Malaysia in March and some of the youngsters did well there.”

This will be first major assignment for newly-appointed coach Graham Reid. India have also included a debutant in Jaskaran Singh.

“It will be Gursahibjit’s second tournament with the Indian team and Armaan Qureshi is also returning to the team after a long gap,” Manpreet said. “I am confident these players will live up to the expectations. It will be good exposure for them against the world no.2 side.”

The team boasts with a mix of experience and youth and will pose a challenge to Australia. The tour will also give a chance for Reid to try out a few combinations ahead for the Bhubaneswar tournament.

Manpreet said that new coach emphasises a lot on playing as a team and not relying much on individual players.

“The new coach constantly reminds us why a team player holds more value to him than an individual player with excellent skill set,” he said.

“He also instills winning mentality in every player and confident body language has also been an area of focus apart from game-specific tactics.”

India needs to finish on top of the group in the hockey series final to ensure a place in the final round of the Olympic qualifier scheduled in October this year.

India began its season with a silver medal at the 28th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh, Malaysia and will hope to keep up the good show.