Hockey

Misfiring and error-prone India pays the price, crashes out of the World Cup

Breaking Indian hearts: The Dutch players celebrate one of their two strikes.

Breaking Indian hearts: The Dutch players celebrate one of their two strikes.   | Photo Credit: Biswaranjan Rout

The Netherlands cashes in on its penalty corners; Belgium gets the better of Germany

In Harendra Singh’s own words, this was the most important game of the competition, the ‘opening game of the World Cup’ after a four-nation tournament that India won in the Pool stage.

It would also have been the first time since India triumphed in 1975 that the host hoped to reach the last four.

That was not to be as India bowed out with a 2-1 loss to the Netherlands in the quarterfinals here on Thursday. It was always expected to be close but India would rue all the chances it wasted.

Dilpreet Singh and Akashdeep Singh missed sitters, India failed to earn many penalty corners and held the ball too long.

The players chose the worst possible game to lose their focus and make errors.

Despite all this, India still took the lead, Akashdeep Singh shooting in a rebound after Harmanpreet Singh’s flick was saved.

With two seconds to go in the quarter, Holland got the equaliser, India letting in the softest of goals — Thierry Brinkman managing a deflection despite his stick being shielded by an Indian defender.

The end-to-end hockey saw both sides packing their defence but also leaving enough open space to attack and create opportunities.

There was little to separate the sides for a large part of the game, both teams doing enough to stay within a goal but failing to get the final shot. With their impeccable control on the move and accuracy in short passes, the Dutch kept the crowd silent.

The plan was simple — break India’s runs, stretch the defence and avoid aerial balls, preferring short, sharp moves and negate the presence of 18000 people at the venue. It worked.

Once Mink van der Weerden converted a penalty corner in the 50th minute to put Netherlands up, India looked like it lost the fight and the game, going into its shell.

Despite all the hard work from the Indian defence, specially Surender Kumar and Harmanpreet Singh and Manrpeet Singh — the Indian captain was indefatigable in his efforts — the team paid the price for its forwards’ profligacy.

The other game of the day was a contrast with Belgium completing the semifinal line-up with a 2-1 win against Germany, a scoreline that might indicate a close game but was all about Belgium creating chances and wasting them.

India’s best finish before this was fifth spot at the 1994 edition. But as per tournament rules, Germany’s more points in the pool stage would put it above India, which would now finish sixth.

The results (quarterfinals): Belgium 2 (Tom Boon, Alexander Hendrickx) bt Germany 1 (Dieter Linnekogel).

The Netherlands 2 (Thierry Brinkman, Mink van der Weerden) bt India 1 (Akashdeep Singh).

Misfiring and error-prone India pays the price, crashes out of the World Cup

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Printable version | Apr 7, 2020 4:58:08 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/hockey/misfiring-and-error-prone-india-pays-the-price-crashes-out-of-the-world-cup/article25735906.ece

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