Hockey World League Final: Inconsistent India eye improvement against Germany

BHUBANESWAR: After losing to England on Saturday night, the mood in the Indian camp was sombre. At the press conference, Manpreet Singh’s expression gave away the disappointment of the defeat. He knew his team had committed several mistakes despite raising their game in the final quarter.
Sunday was an off-day for Indian team. When other teams cancelled their practice sessions, coach Sjoerd Marijne marches in with his troops. The aim of the session was to lift the mood and put them in a better space before their last league match of the Hockey World League Final against Germany on Monday.
After the regular drills, the group was divided into two and pitted against each other for a penalty shootout with the two goalkeepers – Akash Chikte and Suraj Karkera taking turns to guard the cage. The winners celebrated wildly along with the coach. The purpose of session apart from working on mistakes had been fulfilled.
The Indian team has put up two contrasting performances in the space of 24 hours. In the opening match against Australia, they delighted with lighting quick passes and high pressing game upfront catching the defending champions by surprise. In the opening quarter.
, which they so thoroughly demented, several opportunities to score goals were created. When Australia finally came into their own, they put up a solid defence and ended up with a satisfactory 1-1 draw.
Then, a day later, they faced England – a team ranked one place lower and one they would have fancied winning against. They began well but it was England who drew the first blow. And by the hosts recovered, it was too late. The result was a disappointing 3-2 defeat. The quick releases, incisive passes went missing. And when they finally attacked, the defence committed two glaring errors.
Now they face Germany, a team that is not going to allow them easy chances. They are a team who are more than happy to defend and catch their opponents unaware with dangerous counterattacks. They have beaten England 2-0 and played a nail-biting 2-2 draw with Australia. India will be tested on both the fronts – defence and attack. What is more worrying is their inability to score through penalty corners. They did score two on Saturday but have failed on seven occasions across two matches. Clearly, an area they need to improve massively.