Hockey

Indian men take on Malaysia

Right mix: The experience of S.V. Sunil will help Ashish Topno, who is making his debut.

Right mix: The experience of S.V. Sunil will help Ashish Topno, who is making his debut.  

The women’s team will play host Japan

The Indian men’s hockey team will open its campaign against nemesis Malaysia while their female counterparts will take on hosts Japan in the Olympic Test event here on Saturday.

Both the Indian teams have secured their places in the FIH Olympic Qualifiers, to be held later this year, by winning their respective FIH Series Finals.

Being World No. 5 and the top-ranked side in the tournament among men, India starts favourite against World No. 12 Malaysia.

Chance for youngsters

The Indians have rested seniors like skipper Manpreet Singh and goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh, opting to test some young players.

In Manpreet’s absence, dragflicker Harmanpreet Singh will lead the side while striker Mandeep Singh will be his deputy. Malaysia has time and again upset big teams like India at the continental level.

Formidable record

But overall, India has a formidable record against Malaysia. In the last 10 meetings between the two Asian rivals, India has won six, while Malaysia only managed three.

“Historically, we have had some grand battles against Malaysia and I don’t see tomorrow being any different,” India’s chief coach Graham Reid said.

Meanwhile, the 10th-ranked Indian women’s team will have a relatively easy opener against Japan. Then, they will face their toughest test in World No. 2 Australia, before facing World No. 11 China.

The Indian women can take heart from the fact that they beat Japan 3-1 in the final match of the FIH Series Finals in Hiroshima this year.

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Printable version | Feb 18, 2020 12:06:17 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/hockey/indian-men-take-on-malaysia/article29112782.ece

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