Tasmania’s international hockey star Eddie Ockenden is expecting India to bounce back from recent disappointment at this year’s World Cup.
The Indian team failed to win a medal as the Kookaburras romped to victory at the Commonwealth Games and then had to settle for silver and bronze respectively at the Champions Trophy in the Netherlands and the recent Asian Games in Jakarta.
However, Ockenden warned it could be a different story on home soil in Bhubaneswar in November.
In an interview with India’s Hindustan Times, Hobart’s 31-year-old Australia captain and two-time World Cup winner said the Harendra Singh-coached outfit remains a formidable foe.
“They are a very strong team and are very competitive in international tournaments,” he said.
“They have got depth and a pool of players which they didn’t have previously. That always makes a big difference when you have not 8-10 but 30 good players to choose from.
“Playing at home definitely helps India. At times, they feel a little bit of pressure but they generally play really well at home.
“It’s really hard to win international tournaments because there are so many good teams that you are playing against. India are a really strong team. You look at the start of the tournament and you know they are going to be very competitive.
“We have seen India’s squad improving overall. There were certainly very tough games that we played against India in the Champions Trophy. They were very close, one was a draw and one we won.”
India lost a pool game 2-3 to Australia in the Champions Trophy before a 1-1 draw in the final after which the defending champions won 3-1 in the penalty shootout.
Ockenden is joined by fellow Tasmanians Josh Beltz and Jack Welch in the Australian squad to play Argentina in Darwin on Sunday.