The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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India open campaign today

Perth: With their sights firmly fixed on next year’s Olympic Games in Athens, India start their campaign in the three-nation meet here with a match against Australia A on Wednesday.

Playing their first tournament this year, the Indians are essentially looking at the event as a build-up for bigger battles ahead — notably the Champions Trophy in Holland in August followed by the Athens Games.

The team seems to be shaping up well for the tournament, which has Pakistan and Australia as the other two teams, and comfortably won a practice match against a local side on Monday.

Even as all eyes are fixed on the India-Pakistan encounter on Saturday, the first since last October, coach Rajinder Singh was concentrating on the bigger picture. “We are not looking at individual match results. We are here to prepare for the Olympics next year and focussing entirely on building up the right team for that,” he said.

“Of course, winning is important and we will try to win all our matches. But the thrust is on carrying out some experiments and get our combination and planning right,” he said.

The Indians are woefully short on match practice, not having played any international this year. They skipped the Azlan Shan Trophy in Malaysia in March.

However, Rajinder said the team, a blend of youth and experience, was gelling well and looked in fine nick. The team has already had four extensive practice sessions since reaching here on Sunday. The team also had a brainstorming session Tuesday.

“The only hiccup is the faster grounds in this country,” Rajinder said. “Our boys are not used to it and are taking a bit of time to settle down. But it should not be a big problem.India will take on Australia on Thursday ahead of Sunday’s final for which Australia A is not eligible. Australia take on Pakistan in the meet opener on Wednesday.

The second leg of the tournament will be held in Sydney from june 4. Australia have announced a set of 24 players who will be rotated in both their main and A squads.

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