The Black Sticks Men are three games into their five-game series against Pakistan, where they have put up a 3-2 win, then a 2-2 draw followed by a 4-2 loss. After playing the first three games in Wellington, the remaining two games will be played in Wairarapa with the fourth Test tomorrow and the final Test on Thursday.
Who better to break down how the lads have been playing than Arun Panchia? The skipper for this Pakistan series offered a few thoughts before the third Test...
The series so far has been a good one against Pakistan with two very competitive matches. Both teams have had periods of dominance but we are feeling confident in the direction we are heading and the way we are playing. It's always exciting with a new group of players, all four debutants have fit in well to our environment and it's also been good to see guys with some experience taking the next step up.
We've had a quiet build up and we were all a little nervous going into game one but there has been some really good patches of hockey that we are trying to build on. Pakistan are a team we enjoy playing as they challenge you in a few different ways. Their counter attack style, speed, elimination skills and right-side dominant attacks are hard to deal with and when executed well are tough to defend. We are always wary of their counter attack abilities and of course the crash-ball.
You typically don't want to get into 'wave hockey' with a team like Pakistan as it's a real strength of theirs and while we are confident in our fitness and speed, we want to limit their opportunities. Their high ball is another key threat we are always looking for as they often will take the opportunistic approach with a few of their players being able to throw it from '16' to '16'. When your playing a team like this, we know what to expect and it becomes more about limiting their opportunities and capitalizing when we have momentum, something we have done well so far. We're looking forward to the rest of the series and progressing our own game as we look to build towards WL3 in July.
It's going to be a busy Black Sticks week as the lads play their final two games against Pakistan and then the women get their series against USA started on Saturday.