*Hardik Singh during training
New Delhi 26 May: Odds are even as India takes on World Cup runners-up Belgium in the European leg of the FIH Hockey Pro League at the Lee Valley Stadium in London today Friday.
Currently leading the pool table with 19 points from 5 outright victories in 8 matches and 2 from shootouts, India will look to carry on with their winning ways when they take on Belgium tomorrow and Britain on Saturday, 27th May
While Belgium will look to climb up the charts from their current position of No.7. They have so far played just 4 matches in this edition of Pro League and have won a match each against Argentina and Germany. Hosts Britain will be riding on their recent success in Christchurch, New Zealand where they won 5-2 and 6-1 against New Zealand, and also beat Australia 2-1 and 3-3 (4-2 SO) to gain 19 points from 8 games with 4 outright wins and 3 from a shootout.
Meanwhile, having arrived in London on Monday, the Indians looked confident. "As a team, India have built a healthy rivalry against Belgium particularly over the last 5-6 years. We enjoy playing this opponent and the team is always pumped up to do well against them," said Captain Harmanpreet Singh ahead of match against Belgium.
Since the Rio Olympic Games in 2016, India has taken on Belgium in 19 matches of which Belgium has won 9 times while India have won 8 matches and have drawn two games. India last played Belgium in Antwerp last year, where they lost 2-3 and won 3-3 (5-4 SO) in the previous edition of Pro League.
"If you look at the stats, we have always produced close encounters against Belgium. The mind frame that we are in at the moment, we are confident of yet another good show against them," added Harmanpreet, who also happens to be the highest goal scorer in the League so far with 11 goals.
Against Great Britain, India last played at the Tokyo Olympic Games in the Quarter Final match and convincingly beat them 3-1. "Though we haven't played Great Britain regularly, we are aware of the team and the players, and what they can bring to the table particularly while playing in front of their home crowd," stated India Vice Captain Hardik Singh.
"We had a few fans visit us during our practice session and we absolutely love the vibe here in London whenever we have played in this stadium. We look forward to all our Indian hockey fans coming and supporting us over the next week," added the young star.
This will be the Indian team's first outing under Chief Coach Craig Fulton, and in their previous outing in the prestigious League matches at home, India remained unbeaten against reigning World Champions Germany and Australia which helped them top the points table.
In Europe, they will take on the Netherlands and Argentina in Eindhoven, the Netherlands following their matches here in London.