Penalty corner woes at Hockey World League

At every practice session here since the day the Indian team landed for the Hockey World League Finals, special attention has been given to penalty corners. Whether it be creating them or converting, a large part of the Indian training has been focussed on scoring through them.

Penalty corner specialist Gonzalo Peillat is the top scorer of the Hockey World League with six goals.   -  Getty Images

Gonzalo Peillat's drag-flicking prowess has seen Argentina score seven out of their eight goals from penalty corners.

At every practice session here since the day the Indian team landed for the Hockey World League Finals, special attention has been given to penalty corners. Whether it be creating them or converting, a large part of the Indian training has been focussed on scoring through them.

However, for all their efforts, India has been able to earn a total of three corners – one in every game so far – and converted just one. With two specialists in penalty corner conversions and a third – Jasjit Singh Kular – prepared as back-up, the Indians are desperate to get more.

“But if you see, other than Argentina, no other team has been able to get too many penalty corners. Australia did against Canada but otherwise it has been a generally tournament starved of too many short corners. It only shows that the defenders have become better and better,” defended coach Roelant Oltmans.

He has a point. Olympic champions Germany have managed only two, as have the Netherlands. However, given the waywardness of Indian forwards, the absence has affected the host more than others. “I understand penalty corners are very important in modern hockey. Look at Argentina, it is on top here solely because of that. It has scored seven of its eight goals off short corners.

“But other than that, every team has struggled. Even Australia could manage only three out of 19 they got against Canada. But we are not worried, we know we can do well in the chances we get,” said VR Raghunath, one of the two specialists in the side here. Interestingly, Raghunath is yet to take a shot at goal here.

Argentina, with Gonzalo Peillat in its ranks, has concentrated all its energy on earning corners, scoring seven of its eight goals through them. However, every other team has managed just the odd goal.

Rupinder Pal Singh, the other drag-flicker, insisted that it was simply a matter of creating chances. “We are trying but we need to get those corners to try and score. Our forwards are doing their best. I agree given the number of times we entered the circle, we should have got more PCs. Britain also knows we have a good battery of flickers so it will try to deny us that. But our confidence levels are high. It's just a matter of time,” he said.

Stats

Argentina – Goals: 8, Penalty Corners: 7.

Australia – Goals: 9, Penalty Corners: 5.

Belgium – Goals: 10, Penalty Corners: 3.

Great Britain – Goals: 11, Penalty Corners: 1.

Netherlands – Goals: 6, Penalty Corners: 1.

India – Goals: 2, Penalty Corners: 1.

Canada – Goals: 3, Penalty Corners: 1.

Germany – Goals: 2, Penalty Corners: 0.