CWG Hockey: The Aussies pose a big challenge

A semifinal spot should not be too difficult for India, but for that it would have to win at least three of its four league games against tricky opponents.

Indian captains Manpreet Singh (R) and Rani Rampal (C), share a light moment during the send-off ceremony for the Indian contingent bound for the 21st Commonwealth Games.   -  AFP

 

India reached the final only on two occasions, and both times it ended up second best to a dominant Australia, which has won all the five editions so far. It is also one of the few competitions where Indian men have fared worse than the women’s team.

Medal prospects

The 2018 Commonwealth Games is likely to follow a pattern similar to the previous editions. Australia on home turf would be more challenging than ever for the Indian team with a bold and risky combination of youngsters with a smattering of experience. A semifinal spot should not be too difficult for India, but for that it would have to win at least three of its four league games, against tricky opponents (the other teams in India’s group are England, Malaysia, Pakistan and Wales). Finishing out of the medal bracket would clearly be considered a failure.

Women have a realistic chance of a medal

It’s been a while since the Indian women reached the last four stage of a competition that not only gave the team one of its biggest moments but also inspired a feature film. That happened in 2006, but the last two editions of the Commonwealth Games saw India slip further.

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Medal prospects

 India would be realistically hoping for a medal this time after a series of impressive outings against better opponents in recent times. With five teams to a group and the top two progressing to the medal rounds, India would have to get past South Africa, Malaysia and Wales — all of them ranked below India — to have a chance of finishing amongst the top three. But having slipped against the likes of Scotland and South Africa before, India would be cautious. If it makes it to the semis, India can definitely hope to return with a medal.

Men

Total medals: 2 silver (2010 New Delhi and 2014 Glasgow).

Women

Total medals: 1 gold (2002, Manchester) and 1 silver (2006 Melbourne).