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    Commonwealth Games 2022: Can Indian men's hockey team halt Aussie juggernaut to win historic gold?

    Commonwealth Games 2022: Can Indian men's hockey team halt Aussie juggernaut to win historic gold?

    Commonwealth Games 2022: Can Indian men's hockey team halt Aussie juggernaut to win historic gold?
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    By CNBCTV18.com  IST (Published)

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    The Graham Reid-coached and Manpreet Singh-led side would look to better its silver medal-winning efforts at Delhi 2010 and Glasgow 2014. In the 2018 Commonwealth Games, India had to settle for a disappointing fourth place after losing the bronze medal match against England. But to win the gold medal in Birmingham India have to stop Australia who have won an unprecedented six gold medals ever since was introduced at the Commonwealth Games in 1998 in Kuala Lumpur.

    Following the bronze medal finish in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, India's men's hockey team is looking to clinch the gold medal in the upcoming Commonwealth Games 2022 in Birmingham.
    But the team will have to do a near impossible if they have to enjoy a first-place finish. India will have to end Australia's dominance in the sport at the multi-sport event.
    In one of the Commonwealth Games' most astonishing streaks, Australia have won six successive gold medals in men's hockey competition since the sport was introduced at the Commonwealth Games in 1998 in Kuala Lumpur. And given that the Kookaburras won a silver medal in the Tokyo Games after losing a thrilling final to Belgium, they look almost certain to extend their gold medal tally to seven in Birmingham.
    The Graham Reid-coached and Manpreet Singh-led side would look to better its silver medal-winning efforts at Delhi 2010 and Glasgow 2014. In the 2018 Commonwealth Games, India had to settle for a disappointing fourth place after losing the bronze medal match against England.
    But the team has shown transformation in playing hockey and the result was an Olympic bronze medal in Tokyo. It was a medal for the team for the first time in 41 years.
    "Our target is to win the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games. The rest will depend on our performances," team defender Surender Kumar was quoted as saying by a Hockey India release.
    After the Tokyo glory last year, India witnessed a lean patch as they finished third in the Asian Champions Trophy and Asia Cup -- two tournaments where the country fielded second-string sides. In the FIH Pro League too, India finished third.
    Surender believes exposure against top teams in the Pro League would keep them in good stead in Birmingham.
    "The matches that we have played since the Tokyo Olympics have been quite good. We have played against strong teams and it has really benefited us. "We executed our plans well and were also able to recognise the areas where we need improve upon," the 28-year-old said.
    India are placed in Pool B alongside hosts England, Canada, Wales and Ghana. Surender said their first focus is to start well against Ghana on July 31.
    "We are not taking any match lightly. Every team will enter the tournament to win the gold medal. Our current focus is on the first game against Ghana," he said.
    "We have been closely following the footage of opponents. Our coaches are making plans accordingly and we will hope to follow the same on match day. There will be no easy teams in the tournament and we will go game-by-game."
    He further said their prime focus in training sessions has been on physical fitness and defence ahead of the Games. "Our focus in training sessions has been mainly on fitness, we have been working a lot on this aspect of the game. We have worked on getting stronger in other areas as well, especially in defence," Surender said.
    Surender also had words of advice for youngsters like striker Abhishek and defender Jugraj Singh, who will be playing their first CWG.
    "We have told the players to not feel the pressure of performing at the Commonwealth Games and to take them as normal games. We have also been telling them that they have experience of playing against strong teams and hence, they are ready to perform in the competition."
    Watch
    Indian men's hockey team for Commonwealth Games 2022
    Goalkeepers: PR Sreejesh, Krishan Bahadur Pathak
    Defenders: Varun Kumar, Surender Kumar, Harmanpreet Singh (vice captain), Amit Rohidas, Jugraj Singh, Jarmanpreet Singh
    Midfielders: Manpreet Singh (captain), Hardik Singh, Vivek Sagar Prasad, Shamsher Singh, Akashdeep Singh, Nilakanta Sharma
    Forwards: Mandeep Singh, Gurjant Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Abhishek
    Key players for India's chance to win the gold medal in Birmingham will be veteran goalkeeper PR Sreejesh, defender and drag-flicker Harmanpreet Singh, captain Manpreet Singh, midfielder Akashdeep Singh and forwards Gurjant Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay.
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