Champions Trophy: India face Dutch test on Tuesday


The main challenge for the host will be to remain vigilant against the Dutch

Perhaps the Indian hockey team’s chronic problem of faltering at the death is a deep-rooted psychological affliction. History is replete with numerous instances of the Indian defence disintegrating when the rivals up the ante and build pressure in the final moments of a match.

For the Asian Games champion, the opening two matches of the Champions Trophy hockey tournament at the Kalinga Stadium here were no different. India managed to hold a young German side goalless till 59 minutes before conceding a heart-breaking goal in the tournament opener.

It gave an improved performance in its next engagement against World Cup bronze medallist Argentina and was tied 2-2 till the third quarter before succumbing to stress in the last 15 minutes and losing 4-2.

After its first loss, the home team valued ball possession and dominated the initial half of the match against Argentina with a flurry of attacks on both flanks. But, as High Performance Director Roelant Oltmans pointed out, India’s defensive structure collapsed in its desperate effort to regain the lead.

Oltmans underscores the need to ‘read the game well in game situation’.

The Indian team sat down with pen and paper following its second defeat in a row. “No time to sit back and relax. A lot to put in place and polish up before our next game,” said India captain Sardar Singh ahead of the host’s final league match against Pool B topper the Netherlands on Tuesday.

Against the Dutch, the main challenge for India will be to remain vigilant. The Indian forwards, aided by the midfield, have done a good job in creating chances. They will do well to find ways of converting those into goals. The defence, including V.R. Raghunath and Rupinderpal Singh, needs to make a sustained effort to protect the post. Local hero Birendra Lakra is, however, a doubtful starter.

Dutch on a high

The Netherlands is on a high after scoring two consecutive victories and will look forward to making a clean sweep in the pool stage.

“It is a challenge to play against India. We want to top the pool and have a favourable quarterfinal draw,” said Dutch skipper Robert van der Horst.

The World Cup silver medallist will rely on the efficiency of Diede van Puffelen, who has scored twice in two matches, penalty corner expert Mink van der Weerden and skilful midfielder Seve van Ass to tame the Indians.

World champion Australia will search for its first victory when it takes on Pakistan and England will aspire to post its third win on the trot when it faces Belgium in Pool A.

Eyeing a better finish in Pool B, Argentina and Germany are likely to get locked in a tight contest.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2020 4:22:14 AM |

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