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India get tough Champions Trophy opener

June 22, 2005 17:51 IST

India have a tough opening tie, against Olympic champions Australia, in the Champions Trophy hockey tournament, to be held in Chennai this December.

The tournament, from December 10 to 18, will have five of the top six teams from last year's Athens Olympics tournament -- Australia, Holland, Germany, Spain and Pakistan -- besides hosts India.

New Zealand, who finished sixth in the last edition in Lahore, have been replaced by Olympic champions Australia.

The Athens gold medallists did not compete in Lahore last December due to security fears but are expected to take part in Chennai, their first major tournament since their breakthrough Olympic triumph last August.

According to the draw released by the International Hockey Federation, India plays Australia on the opening day, December 10, which will also see Holland playing the tournament opener against Pakistan and Germany taking on defending champions Spain.

India will play Germany on December 11, Holland on December 13, arch-rivals Pakistan on December 14 and Spain on December 16.

An Olympic final rematch between Australia and Holland will be played on the final day of round robin matches -- on December 16.

Germany hold the record for the most Champions Trophy victories, eight, followed by Holland and Australia, seven each.

Of the other competing teams, all teams except India have lifted the trophy at least once.

India have only one bronze medal (1982) to show from 11 appearances in the elite tournament.

It is the second time that the Champions Trophy is being held in India, the only other occasion resulting in a Dutch triumph, in 1996, also in Chennai.

The fixtures: (all timings IST)

December 10
1600: Netherlands v Pakistan
1800: Germany v Spain
2000: India v Australia

December 11
1600: Spain v Netherlands
1800: Pakistan v Australia
2000: India v Germany

December 12
Rest Day

December 13
1600: Australia v Germany
1800: Spain v Pakistan
2000: Netherlands v India

December 14:
1600: Spain v Australia
1800: Germany v Netherlands, 6pm
2000: India v Pakistan

December 15
Rest Day

December 16
1600: Germany v Pakistan
1800: Australia v Netherlands
2000: India v Spain

December 17
Rest Day

December 18
Classification matches
1500:  5 v 6
1730: 3 v 4
2000: 1 v 2

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