Melbourne: India face a huge task as they lock horns against 12-time champions Australia in the semifinals of the 34th edition of the FIH Champions Trophy hockey here on Saturday.
India will be vying for their first final appearance in the tournament's history while reigning World Champions Australia will look to enter their sixth consecutive Champions Trophy final, having won the tournament the last four times in a row (2008-2011).
The eight-time Olympic champions, however, have their hands full with a number of injuries in the squad.
Captain Sardar Singh and midfielder Manpreet Singh have carried on playing despite not being fully fit, which will play to the advantage of World No.2 Australia.
Right-wing striker S.V. Sunil took a chance by playing for a few minutes in the quarterfinals against Belgium but managed only a limited role due to a hamstring problem.
The Kookaburras earlier finished second in their group behind Netherlands and had little trouble in moving past World No.4 England 2-0 in the quarterfinals.
India, ranked 11th in the world, on the other hand had a narrow 1-0 victory against World No.8 Belgium in their last eight encounter.
A win for India will guarantee them their first medal since 1982 when they won the bronze in Amstelveen.
In the other semifinal, World No.9 Pakistan will take on London Olympic silver medallists Netherlands.
Pakistan will be looking for their first medal since 2004, when they won the bronze in Lahore while Netherlands will be gunning for the their third consecutive Champions Trophy medal after winning the bronze the last two times.
Story first published on: Friday, 07 December 2012 18:36 IST