Hoping to recoup from an appalling defeat in the FIH Hockey World Cup, Indians plan on dictating terms in their pool in CWG. Everyone in the team is hopeful that a significant improvement will be seen by the spectators.
Even the coach, Terry Walsh, has declared ‘improvement‘ as the main objective and has set the first target to ensure a last-four berth for the erstwhile giants of the game. Hockey India(HI) eyes the Glasgow games as an important fixture for the upcoming All Asian games, in which if India is able to get a gold, it will seal their ticket for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
“Our big objective (in CWG) is to improve our game and finish in the top two in our pool and then move into the crossover situations. It’s an important tournament leading to the Asian Games. So we are looking for improvement during the tournament. Our objective is to grow during the tournament,” Walsh had said.
The confidence of the team will be boosted by the presence of experienced players like Danish Mujtaba and Gurvinder Singh Chandi, who along with young strikers Ramandeep Singh and Nikkin Thimmaiah, were sidelined during the World cup due to injuries.
During the World cup Indians were guilty of allowing last minute goals (against Belgium and England), which in turn hindered the advancement in the tournament. Therefore, our flimsy backline is anxious to shake things up a bit.
Vice-captain P R Sreejesh was in splendid form in the World Cup in front of the Indian goal and is now a hot favorite among the Indian fans. Sardar Singh too has high expectations from his side in the Games and is eyeing an encore of 2010 Delhi CWG final against Australia. He quoted “We have worked on the mistakes which we committed in the World Cup, like conceding late goals and penalty corner conversions. The target of all players is to win a gold because we have improved a lot since the World Cup”.
Keeping their word, an exceptionally talented but erratic Indian team defeated a meek Wales on Friday, with a score of 3-1 and the hosts of the CWG 14, Scotland by thrashing 6-2. In what could be summarized about our performance on Friday, the team had a slow start with a half time score of 1-1, the opening goal scored by VR Raghunath through a penalty corner in the 20th minute which was cancelled within 3 minutes by Walsh Andrew Cornick. Another penalty corner in the 2nd half gave India an edge for the second time in the match. Rupinder Pal Singh scored in 42nd minute to turn the ball into the back of the net. Finally, Gurwinder Singh Chandi put the match beyond Wales in the 47th minute notching India’s first open-play goal in the match.
Playing against the hosts, India thrashed the Scott’s with an astounding 6-2. From the beginning of the match, it was evident that India was overshadowing as it was only the 6th minute when striker Gurvinder Singh Chandi scored a magnificent field goal. Maintaing their grip, India constantly kept on attacking . In the 23rd minute, V.R. Raghunath bagged a penalty corner for India with his stick, increasing India’s dominance. At the end of the first half, the score read 2-0. Moving into the 2nd half, India once again maintained their constant attacks scoring one after the other. As seen in the 37th minute, Rupinder Pal Singh converted another penalty corner. Shortly after, in the 40th minute, Chandi added one more increasing the lead to 4-0 with a brilliant dribble with the defence. In the 45th and the 48th minute, both Raghunath and Rupinder Pal converted penalty corners respectively, taking the tally to a massive 6-0.
The Scott’s tried to salvage some pride as they scored in the 56th minute and 69th minute through K Bain and Nicholas Parkes. Bains scored a field goal, opening the Scottish account, while Nicholas Parkes scored in the 69th minute, converting a penalty corner.
With matches against Australia and South Africa to follow, India is expected to make the semis along with Australia.
On the contrary, the Women’s team won the initial match quite successfully defeating Canada 4-2 but were whipped by New Zealand in their 2nd match, 3-0. The team then thrashed the hapless Trinidad & Tobago 14-0 to bag their second win in the games.
The spectators and fans are hopeful that the teams will end up the podium finish. For that to happen, it is imperative that the senior experienced players are up to the task and guide the youngsters along with them for positive results.