India, Japan gear-up for 2nd match of Test Series today

Bhubaneswar: After a high-intense drawn match against Japan, India will now step-on the field with a single goal of wining their second match to gain a strong hold in the four-match Test Series here today.

India displayed rusty defence on May 3 during their 1-1 draw against Japan to begin its four-match Test series on a disappointing note and skipper Sardar Singh will hope his team puts up a better show today.

Tomorrow Indian players will have to tackle Japan’s long passes as well as contain them in their half to create maximum goal-scoring opportunities.

In the penalty corner, India has a stronger side than the visitors and in the presence of specialists such as VR Raghunath, Birendra Lakra and skipper Sardar Singh, Indians have ability to convert maximum penalty corners in goals.

Japan, on the other hand, could not materialise a single penalty corner yesterday and they found difficult to surpass goalkeeper PR Sreejesh.

Come tomorrow, both India and Japan will have to tweak their strategies to outplay each other. While Indians will look to work on their defence side, Japan have to work on their penalty corner skills.

“We didn’t play very good yesterday and faced strong challenges from the Japan side. As I told you earlier, don’t see the ranking, they are a very good Asian team, who plays in European style speedy hockey,” India chief coach Paul van Ass said after the Practice Session.

“We didn’t play as per our expectations in the first half, that’s why we conceded the goal. But we came back after the half-time and played well.

“The first match was like testing each other’s strength and we now know the Japanese better. We are working harder on our defence side and in the next match, we will step on the field with better strategies against the opponents.”

Speaking at the Practice Session at Kalinga Stadium, Japan coach Keonwook Kang said: “Though we drew the match yesterday, we are not happy with our performance and we need to improve in various areas.

“We have a good defence but we need to work harder on attacking. We have a better understanding of Indian players now and we will make strategies around their style. We are looking forward to tomorrow’s game.”