New Zealand test awaits mediocre India

New Zealand test awaits mediocre India

A mediocre India will have to plug in the loopholes in defence as well as improve their finishing as they take on New Zealand in their last FIH World League Round 3 group match against New Zealand here tomorrow.

After missing out on a point against Ireland in their tournament-opener, followed by yesterday's 0-2 reverse to the Netherlands, the Indians have already jeopardised their chance of sealing one of the three berths up for grabs in next year's World Cup.

But a win against New Zealand will no doubt be a confidence booster for Michael Nobbs' boys ahead of the quarterfinals.

Before the Netherlands test, India were held to a 4-4 draw by lower-ranked Ireland.
Considered a perennial problem, the defence hurt India against the Irish. They looked a shade better against world number 3, the Netherlands, but the strikers let them down against the current Olympic silver medallists.

In their first match, there was clear lack of co-ordination between Indian mid-fielders and the forwardline and they were also guilty of giving away the ball easily to their opponents.

Against the Netherlands, they struggled to come to terms with the speed of the Dutch players. The Indians did grow in confidence as the match progressed, but luck did not smile on them. To add to that, the strikers' lack of discretion upfront also did not help India's cause.

New Zealand, on the other hand, overcame a stern challenge to emerge victorious against Ireland in their last match.

One India player who just about managed to stand tall amid the mediocrity during the Netherlands match, was P R Sreejesh, who effected a couple of good saves.

Drag-flicker Rupinderpal Singh would look to convert the penalty corners while skipper Sardar Singh will again be the fulcrum in the mid-field. It will serve India much better if Srdar gets support from the other players.

Akashdeep Singh and the experienced Shivendra Singh will need to be more opportunistic upfront.

With his threatening long runs, S V Sunil will look to deliver the crosses from the flanks.
A good news for India is that goalkeeper Sreejesh, who was carried off the field following a collision with Ireland striker Andrew McConnell in the last six minutes of their first match, looked in good health against the Dutch.

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