HWL Final: Hot-and-cold India takes on Germany

The home team will be keen to fix the chinks in its armour.

India’s players train on Sunday at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar.   -  PTI

An entire hour of practice in blistering sun was spent trying to get the ball into the goal through every possible combination and from every angle. Some of the shots went out, several made it to the backboard but a majority were saved by the two goalkeepers, highlighting the biggest concern for coach Sjoerd Marijne ahead of the India's final league match against Germany.

Exactly two years ago, The Hindu had carried a report about the Indian team in the previous edition of this very tournament, citing how the team 'needed to be more consistent'. The team might have achieved several highs and lows in the intervening period but the issue of consistency remains unresolved.

India was aggressive yet sublime in its first match against Australia. It was lethargic and tried to roughshod its way past England. Neither helped the team win but Marijne would have preferred the former any day, sticking to the gameplan and holding the structure firm. He would also prefer the first to turn up for every game India plays. “We have seen our videos from the England match and are aware of the errors and weaknesses. We are working on working out the chinks in our game and looking to build consistency,” the Dutchman said after the strenuous training on Sunday.

India vs Germany, Head-to-Head


Particulars

MP

W

D

L

GF

GA

Total

96

18

26

52

145

212

In HWL

3

1

2

0

9

8

Last Five

5

0

2

3

6

13

Last played: June  2017 Dusseldorf tourney; India lost 0-2

Stats: B.G. Joshi

 

It was a throwback to the frustrating times of former coach Roelant Oltmans, who complained he never knew which Indian team would turn up on a given day. But while the midfield and the defence played in patches and switched on occasionally, the big concern would be the misfiring forwards.

 

Lacking final touch

Gurjant Singh and Mandeep Singh, both stars of the Junior World Cup and with enough experience at the senior level as well – Mandeep was even part of the 2014 World Cup – have failed to get the final touch in. Worse, they have also been found mistrapping often inside the striking circle. Akashdeep, too, has failed. The penalty corners haven't produced enough returns either despite the presence of a triple-battery of drag-flick experts and a couple of hitters. But pointing out individuals to blame in a team effort that left a lot to be desired wouldn't be fair.

Rankings have been rendered pointless so far in the competition here. 

India, sixth in the world, lost to England, placed a rung lower. It takes on Germany, which is placed a spot above. As such, there is little difference between the sides even though Germany has been impressive in its two games and has an embarrassingly upper hand in the head-to-head with India. What it needs to be mindful of are the long aerial passes used so effectively by Harmanpreet Singh and Varun Kumar, and allowing India too much space through the middle.

With one draw and one loss, India is currently at the bottom in Pool B with one point. The pool is being led by the Germans who have four points from one win and a draw. The other match of the day would see defending champion Australia, yet to win a game here, take on England to complete Pool B engagements.

Barry Middleton, the fifth most capped player in hockey, wiill play his 400th match in Bhubaneswar on Monday.

Caps

Goals

Scored

Player

Country

Duration

453

219

Teun de Nooijer

Netherlands

1994-2012

412

77

Dilip Tirkey

India

1995-2009

410

37

Waseem Ahmad

Pakistan

1996-2013

401

10

Jeroen  Delmee

Netherlands

1994-2008

399*

113

Barry Middleton

England

2003-active



 

 

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