India has never won gold in the six editions of CWG. Two silver medals in the 2010 and 2014 editions is the best they have been able to achieve since hockey was introduced to the Games in 1998.
In contrast, the world’s No. 1 Australia was by far the most dominant team in CWG, winning all six gold medals to date.
So finishing on the podium by getting past the mighty Kookaburras would certainly be a big task for India and they will have to go all out to achieve the elusive feat.
But the historic bronze at the Tokyo Olympics, after a 41-year hiatus, has given the Indian players a high level of confidence.
Already secured a silver, a gold from here will be the icing on the cake for the Indians and the Manpreet Singh-led side will not want to miss such an opportunity.
But to achieve that, the Indians will have to improve on all counts, as the Australians will not miss a single mistake by their opponents.
Both India and Australia recorded identical 3-2 victories over South Africa and host England to reach the final.
India’s backline, led by the ever-trustworthy custodian PR Sreejesh, will have to be sharp and cannot afford to make stupid mistakes as the Australians are expected to apply relentless pressure.
The Indian midfield under captain Manpreet is in great shape with Hardik Singh and Nilkanta Sharma with sparks.
But it is the forward line that has been most impressive. Mandeep Singh was phenomenal up front with his great runs and dribbling skills in the D, while Akashdeep Singh also shone.
The will of Shamsher Singh, Lalit Upadhyay, Gurjant Singh and Abhishek also looked menacing in the tournament so far.
An area that head coach Graham Reid would be concerned about the execution of penalty corners as India converted only one out of seven against South Africa despite having good drag flicks like Harmanpreet, Varun Kumar, Jugraj Singh and Rohidas in their ranks.
The reason behind India’s poor PC conversion on Saturday was South African goalkeeper Gowan Jones, who made several fantastic saves over Harmanpreet and Co.
In the play-off for bronze medal, host country England will play against South Africa on Monday.
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