Azlan Shah Cup: Sardar Singh & Co take on Japan today in opener
Ipoh (Malaysia): Eyes firmly set on a much-improved performance in Olympics, an experimental Indian men's hockey team will kick start its preparation for the quadrennial event with the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, where it will meet Japan in its opening match, here today.
Indian skipper Sardar Singh
Eight-time Olympic gold medallist, India's tune-up for the Rio Games will get underway today at this quaint capital of Malaysia's Perak state as the opening fixture against Japan allows the team an opportunity to find its feet before running into stronger oppositions that include reigning world champions Australia.
With the Olympic Games just four months away, India want to make the most of their appearance in the 25th edition of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, while promising to improve upon their bronze medal effort of last year.
Chance for youngsters
Boosted by their bronze medal win in the Hockey World League Finals at Raipur in last December, India will test the ability of several youngsters in reproducing their strategic training in match situations in the Azlan Shah Cup.
The Ipoh outing will be a test of the Indian players' ability to assess different styles of play and strive to match them. Captained by Sardar Singh, the Indian team includes some seasoned performers like vice-captain SV Sunil, Rupinder Pal Singh, Kothajit Singh and Manpreet Singh.