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India pumped up to take on favourites Australia tomorrow

By The Assam Tribune

NEW DELHI, March 1 (IANS) - After outplaying Pakistan in their Hockey World Cup opener, it is back to business for India. They will have to quickly regain their focus and breath to take on favourites Australia in their next Pool B match Tuesday.

However, the hosts suffered a setback today as their reliable centre forward Shivendra Singh was handed a three-match suspension for "deliberately" hitting a Pakistani player during their emphatic 4-1 win. Even if the suspension is reduced following an appeal, Shivendra seems an unlikely starter Tuesday.

If India looked unstoppable Sunday, Australia smarted under a shocking 3-2 defeat by England. The Australians, runners-up in the last editions, will be out to take it out on the Indians all their frustration as they also have a grouse against the umpiring and referrals.

India's World Cup record against the Australians is not all that good. The 1975 champions have beaten Australia just once in five meetings, the only victory coming in 1978 against four losses.

Though Australia won the World Cup only once in 1986, their record has been brilliant since finishing third in 1978, and have always figured in the semi-finals.

The Australians lost the last two finals to Germany and this time they have come determined to take the cup home with the redoubtable Ric Charlesworth as coach. The fact that Germany have a relatively inexperienced side has given them a further fillip.

Australia have, however, started their campaign on the wrong foot, losing to the 2009 European champions England and would be looking to recover their poise and ground quickly.

"Losing the first game is obviously very disappointing. We had enough chances and if we can't score from them, we have ourselves to blame," said Charlesworth, who captained Australia to their only World Cup title, beating England.

Incidentally, Charlesworth is the former technical consultant of India and left the country after his blueprint to bring Indian hockey back to centrestage was beyond the indifferent bureaucracy and inefficient sports administrators.

Charlesworth, however, knows that beating India in their own backyard with the crowd backing will be highly difficult, certainly after that heady victory over Pakistan.

"We still have a long way to go. India is a good team and they will have the support of the crowd. But we've been in such situations before. There are no real surprises in international hockey."

Charlesworth was tight-lipped about their chances against the hosts.

"I can?t say. We haven?t played them in a while. I haven?t even seen them play for sometime now,? said Charlesworth before settling down to study the match between india and Pakistan Sunday night.

Charlesworth has had his success with the Australian team. In the Champions trophy last year Australia demolished all opposition en route to winning the title.

But, going by the way India outplayed Pakistan, the eight-time Olympic champions look good to give the Australians a run for their money. The biggest challenge for Indian coach Jose Brasa would be to make his boys realise that their journey has just begun.

The Spaniard did a wonderful job asking his players to check their emotions against Pakistan and play it as just another game. To Brasa's credit, he managed to get his players do what he exactly wanted them to. It was a smooth ride and there was no trace of tension or excitement as they meticulously demolished the Pakistanis.

Now Brasa?s call to his players is to keep their feet on the ground.

"We have to keep the win behind and think of the next match. It is nice to get three points from the opening game, but the task ahead is not easy, particularly against a good team like Australia," said Brasa.

Australia captain Jamie Dwyer, the winner of three FIH player of the Year awards, said his team will have to make proper use of their chances. Against England, they could convert just one of their 13 penalty-corners.

"We are disappointed and it was frustrating when you get so many chances and you don't convert them. We have to recover and regroup before the India match.

"The crowd was fantastic today and they would be cheering the Indians Tuesday. We have to come up with a much improved performance," he said.

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India pumped up to take on favourites Australia tomorrow

NEW DELHI, March 1 (IANS) - After outplaying Pakistan in their Hockey World Cup opener, it is back to business for India. They will have to quickly regain their focus and breath to take on favourites Australia in their next Pool B match Tuesday.

However, the hosts suffered a setback today as their reliable centre forward Shivendra Singh was handed a three-match suspension for "deliberately" hitting a Pakistani player during their emphatic 4-1 win. Even if the suspension is reduced following an appeal, Shivendra seems an unlikely starter Tuesday.

If India looked unstoppable Sunday, Australia smarted under a shocking 3-2 defeat by England. The Australians, runners-up in the last editions, will be out to take it out on the Indians all their frustration as they also have a grouse against the umpiring and referrals.

India's World Cup record against the Australians is not all that good. The 1975 champions have beaten Australia just once in five meetings, the only victory coming in 1978 against four losses.

Though Australia won the World Cup only once in 1986, their record has been brilliant since finishing third in 1978, and have always figured in the semi-finals.

The Australians lost the last two finals to Germany and this time they have come determined to take the cup home with the redoubtable Ric Charlesworth as coach. The fact that Germany have a relatively inexperienced side has given them a further fillip.

Australia have, however, started their campaign on the wrong foot, losing to the 2009 European champions England and would be looking to recover their poise and ground quickly.

"Losing the first game is obviously very disappointing. We had enough chances and if we can't score from them, we have ourselves to blame," said Charlesworth, who captained Australia to their only World Cup title, beating England.

Incidentally, Charlesworth is the former technical consultant of India and left the country after his blueprint to bring Indian hockey back to centrestage was beyond the indifferent bureaucracy and inefficient sports administrators.

Charlesworth, however, knows that beating India in their own backyard with the crowd backing will be highly difficult, certainly after that heady victory over Pakistan.

"We still have a long way to go. India is a good team and they will have the support of the crowd. But we've been in such situations before. There are no real surprises in international hockey."

Charlesworth was tight-lipped about their chances against the hosts.

"I can?t say. We haven?t played them in a while. I haven?t even seen them play for sometime now,? said Charlesworth before settling down to study the match between india and Pakistan Sunday night.

Charlesworth has had his success with the Australian team. In the Champions trophy last year Australia demolished all opposition en route to winning the title.

But, going by the way India outplayed Pakistan, the eight-time Olympic champions look good to give the Australians a run for their money. The biggest challenge for Indian coach Jose Brasa would be to make his boys realise that their journey has just begun.

The Spaniard did a wonderful job asking his players to check their emotions against Pakistan and play it as just another game. To Brasa's credit, he managed to get his players do what he exactly wanted them to. It was a smooth ride and there was no trace of tension or excitement as they meticulously demolished the Pakistanis.

Now Brasa?s call to his players is to keep their feet on the ground.

"We have to keep the win behind and think of the next match. It is nice to get three points from the opening game, but the task ahead is not easy, particularly against a good team like Australia," said Brasa.

Australia captain Jamie Dwyer, the winner of three FIH player of the Year awards, said his team will have to make proper use of their chances. Against England, they could convert just one of their 13 penalty-corners.

"We are disappointed and it was frustrating when you get so many chances and you don't convert them. We have to recover and regroup before the India match.

"The crowd was fantastic today and they would be cheering the Indians Tuesday. We have to come up with a much improved performance," he said.