India face stern test

India face stern test

An error-prone India need nothing short of a miracle to secure a direct berth in next year’s hockey World Cup as they take on formidable Australia in the quarterfinals of the men’s competition of the FIH World Round 3 (Semifinals) here on Wednesday.

Six top teams -- three each -- will qualify directly for the 2014 World Cup to be held in Hague, The Netherlands, from the two editions of FIH World League Round 3 -- the ongoing event in Rotterdam and then the next one to be held in Malaysia from June 29 to July 7.

But for India it is now looking extremely difficult to be among one of those six teams as in the last-eight match world ranked second Australia await them, a side against whom the Indians hold a dismal record in the recent past.

India, however, could take heart from the fact that they put up a much-improved performance to eke out a fighting 3-3 draw against higher-ranked New Zealand in their last match to finish third in Pool B with two points.

After two pretty ordinary outings against lower-ranked Ireland (4-4) and hosts Netherlands (0-2), the Indians displayed an attacking brand of hockey against the Black Sticks from the starting hooter on Monday night.