Sloppy India need to find spark soon

Hockey World League Final

Sloppy India need to find spark soon

Hosts take on Germany today

India were never considered to be serious contenders in the Hero Hockey World League Final. It is well known fact that the home team is in a phase of transition and rebuilding under new coach Terry Walsh. However, the manner of its defeats has left even the optimists disappointed.

In their two matches against England (World No 4, 0-2) and New Zealand (World No 7, 1-3), India have failed to get the basics right. The trapping and passing were below par and their moves lacked coordination. 

The penalty corner conversions, an area in which India had shown good improvement over the last few years, also stood out as a sore point.

In the two matches, India, comprising three drag-flick experts in VR Raghunath, Rupinderpal Singh and Amit Rohitdas, could not convert even a single penalty corner. The Indian story in the first two matches have been of unforced errors and missed opportunities.

Walsh had backed the team after its defeat to England and called it a “productive” first step. But India’s performance against New Zealand proved to be no better. They sure tried to be more attacking but once again could not suitably finish even the good moves.

This time Walsh termed India’s performance as “substandard and unacceptable”. “We made a lot of unforced errors in executing our skills. We played very slowly. We were horrible with penalty corner conversions. It is very frustrating to miss opportunities,” Walsh said after the match.

“We perform well in training but when it comes to performing under pressure we falter.”India might like to take a leaf out of Argentina’s books. At 11th position, Argentina is the lowest ranked side in the tournament and one rung below India. 

But with their spirited show, they have caused a stir in the tournament by upsetting two top-ranked teams. They shocked World No 3 The Netherlands with a 5-2 victory and followed it up by handing World No 5 Belgium a 3-2 defeat.

India, on Monday, will have to perform notches higher against World No 1 Germany, who are nursing a bruised ego following their surprise 1-2 loss against England. Germany coach Markus Weise had already declared their intention to go for a win against India.

The format of the tournament is such that all eight teams would move into the quarterfinals and the matches in the league phase would only determine the positions in the group. But going into the knockout phase with such performances would have only dented India's confidence. They would do better to put up an improved show against Germany.

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