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Hockey: Sardar Singh wants youngsters to step up against Australia

Perth: High on confidence after being crowned Asian Champions, India's men's hockey team will test its skills against world number one Australia in a four-test series, beginning here today.

Sardar Singh
Sardar Singh 

The series will prepare the side for the prestigious Champions Trophy, scheduled for next month in India. India captain Sardar Singh said this series was good opportunity for a few young players to impress the selectors ahead of the Champions Trophy.

"Champions Trophy is an important tournament for all of us, as we will see world¿s best teams fighting it out for the title. It is a good opportunity for the junior players as this four-match series is majorly going to benefit them by helping them learn the nitty-gritty¿s of hockey at international level," Sardar said.

"The training sessions have concluded pretty well and the whole team is performing well as a unit. We are working on the finishing at all positions, be it defence, mid-field or forward.

It's good see the enthusiasm of the junior players as they are really keen to learn more. We as a team do not hesitate in discussion any issue and help each other learn and work on each other¿s weaknesses together," he said.

Coach Terry Walsh, who created ripples recently by quitting his post before agreeing to continue, said it was "exciting times" for his players being up against the best team in the world.

"It is the best exposure for the young boys, as it will help them learn and grow. Playing against Australia is a bench mark and will bring out the best of the players.

Training sessions have been going good so far and we are all growing as a team and it will be a good show coming up in this tournament," he said.

Speaking on tomorrows match, Indian drag-flicker Gurjinder Singh said, "I have mixed emotions for tomorrow's match, as I feel excited to be playing on an international platform and that too against Australia, at the same time a feeling of adrenaline rush to give my best in match and live up to the expectations of my seniors especially VR Raghunath and Rupinder Pal Singh."

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