An error-prone India needs nothing short of a miracle to secure a direct berth in next year’s hockey World Cup as it takes on formidable Australia in the quarterfinals of the men’s competition of the FIH World Round 3, here on Wednesday.

Six top teams — three each — will qualify directly for the 2014 World Cup to be held in Hague, The Netherlands from the two editions of FIH World League Round 3 — the ongoing event in Rotterdam and then the next one to be held in Malaysia from June 29 to July 7.

But for India it is now looking extremely difficult to be among one of those six teams as in the last eight round world ranked second Australia awaits it, a side against whom the Indians hold a poor record in the recent past.

India, however, could take heart from the fact that it puts up a much-improved performance to eke out a fighting 3-3 draw against higher-ranked New Zealand in the last match to finish third in Pool ‘B’ with two points.

Against New Zealand, the Indians had far more possession, more penetration and more shots at target.

In other men’s quarterfinals, Belgium will face Ireland, New Zealand will play Spain while host Netherlands will be up against France.

Tuesday’s results: Women (quarterfinals): New Zealand 3 (Krystal Forgesson, Anita Punt, Charlotte Harrison) bt Japan 1 (own goal); Germany 2 (Maike Stockel, Marie Mavers) bt Chile 0. — PTI

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