Perth: India hockey captain Bharat Chetri feels that playing in the new format -- Hockey 9s Super Series -- will prove to be advantageous for India in the long run, including the Olympic Qualifier.
India is one of the four countries taking part in the Lanco International Super Series Hockey 9s, which will be played with less number of players for lesser time with wider goalmouth and new set of penalty corner rules.
Chetri said that playing against teams like Australia, Pakistan and New Zealand in the new format will add value and quality to India's Olympic qualifier program.
"All the other countries in the competition, except India, have qualified for the next year's Olympics. We have now got a chance to engage the teams in a competition," Chetri said at the sidelines of a promotional event at the Cutin University Hockey grounds.
"This format lays emphasis on scoring and that is what we need to do at the Qualifier. If we can score more goals here and keep up the habit, it will do a world of good to us," he added.
Asked if playing in a new format might confuse the players, especially in the Olympic Qualifiers, Chetri explained, "Only the fitter teams will do well in the Hockey 9s. Therefore, this event is an opportunity to test our fitness level. Where we stand as far as our fitness level is concerned."
"We are at present working hard on our fitness. Hockey 9s will help us in firming things up. It is, in fact, a boon for our preparation," said the goalkeeper.
Chetri also insisted that there is enough time before the qualifiers to get back into the traditional format mode.
"We will be playing test matches against Australia and Pakistan after the Hockey 9s event. Thereafter we have Champions Challenge also. The test matches and the Champions Challenge will anyway be played on traditional format so I see no difficulty in reverting to the original format."
Emphasising that hockey needs some innovation, the captain said, "People sometimes are bored with same things. They want to see new things and it is better that we too have something new on board."
Chetri said his team is well prepared and expressed confidence of coming up with a good show.
"We trained well at the camp in Bangalore and it should be adequate I supposed," he said.
India will take on New Zealand on Thursday in the Hockey 9s opener.