India to play six-Test series against New Zealand

For India, the tour will be an ideal preparation for the all-important FIH Hockey World League Final, to be held in Raipur later this year, and the Rio Olympics next year. New Zealand, on the other hand, will seek to prepare for the upcoming Oceania Cup.

In New Zealand, the Indian men's squad will play the first two matches against New Zealand ‘A’ and the remaining four against the senior team.   -  PTI

As part of their preparations for next year’s Olympics, India will compete against New Zealand in a six-match hockey Test series from October 2 to 11 in Auckland, Nelson and Christchurch.

“While India will play the first two matches against the New Zealand ‘A’ team, the last four matches will be against the New Zealand senior men’s team,” Hockey India said in a press release on Tuesday.

For India, the tour will be an ideal preparation for the all-important FIH Hockey World League Final, to be held in Raipur later this year, and the Rio Olympics next year. New Zealand, on the other hand, will seek to prepare for the upcoming Oceania Cup. A victory there would confirm a berth for New Zealand in the Rio Olympics.

After a successful Europe Tour in August, where India defeated France and Spain, the Indian team is upbeat and expects positive results from the tour. The Indian players are undergoing training at a camp in New Delhi.

In June 2015, New Zealand, playing in the FIH Hockey World League Semi-Final in Argentina, finished sixth after a loss to Canada in a quarterfinal match. Another defeat against Spain in the classification match for the fifth and sixth places meant New Zealand missed an opportunity to qualify for the Rio Olympics.

New Zealand still has a chance to qualify for the Olympics if they win the 2015 Oceania Cup, which will be held at home in Stratford from October 21 to 25. Hence, the clash against India will be important as the team prepares for the upcoming challenge.

Speaking of the tour, Mohd. Mushtaque Ahmad, Secretary General, Hockey India, said, “The series was planned keeping in mind the important tournaments that are lined up for the Indian team. Series like this will help our team to understand the changing style of the opposition and work on our strategies. The team is very excited and is looking forward to the series.”

Malcolm Harris, the Chief Executive of Hockey New Zealand, said, “We are very excited about this upcoming series – it’s the first time since 2009 that India’s men’s team has toured New Zealand. Our fans can’t wait to welcome India – it’s a great chance for us to see world-class hockey here in New Zealand.

“It also provides the Black Sticks Men with some strong competition ahead of the important Oceania Cup.”