Goal: Win by eight goals. Result: Won by two.
India’s cage, under pressure, was error-prone and just lacked punch but still managed to work and advance in the World Cup. Although they cruised to an eight-goal win to qualify for the quarter-finals directly, they now face New Zealand here on Sunday when they take on debutant Wales in their final Pool D clash. Will be able to win 4-2.
England, who earlier thumped Spain 4-0 in their second Pool D match at the Kalinga Stadium on Thursday, booked their place in the last eight straight away while India finished second and Spain third, knocking out Wales but Also scored, before giving the hosts a tough fight. Two goals for the first time in a World Cup match.
Crucially for India, in the absence of the injured Hardik Singh, the midfield stepped up with veteran campaigner Akash Deep Singh (33rd, 46th) scoring a brace after Shamsher Singh’s opener in the 22nd minute. Created plenty of opportunities for K’s forward line. More importantly, the monkey is behind for Indian captain and primary drag flicker Harmanpreet Singh, who finally scored for the first time this World Cup when he slipped in India’s fourth and final goal in the last minute.
Drag flicker Gareth Furlong (43rd) scored Wales’ first goal from a penalty corner (PC) after silencing the crowd. The pin drop was quiet in the final minute of the third quarter when Jacob Draper (45th) scored off a rebound during the PC to tie the contest 2-2.
“We didn’t play the first two quarters the way we planned, but we did well in the end. For now we have to prepare for the pre-quarter finals. After watching the videos we will analyze what we need to do to further progress in the tournament. We will improve accordingly,” said player of the match Akash Deep.
“Our plan was to play our normal game, put scoreboard pressure on them from the start which didn’t happen. We didn’t score in the first quarter so we were playing attacking hockey. But we improved our game in the third and fourth quarters.
India had a mountain to climb if they wanted to top Pool D. It was the pressure of scoring that did not allow them to execute their plans.
Knowing that they were playing their last competitive game of the tournament before traveling to Rourkela for the 9-16 position play-offs, the Lewis Prosser-led Welsh squad came out in attacking mode, attacking the Indians at every opportunity. Entered the striking circle. .
As India looked for more targets, Wales found opportunities to launch their counters which peaked in the third quarter. The British outfit scored two of PC’s three tries in the third quarter – also in the match – as Wales stunned the crowd with an equaliser.
The Welsh team regularly outclassed the hosts throughout the contest, particularly in the striking circles. When they attacked, everyone from the defenders to the strikers, except the goalkeeper, pressed towards the shooting circle. When they defended, all 11 were in their respective circles, defending against India.
Their strategy of not worrying about counter-attacking backfired as all of India’s targets came on counter-attacks.
“England did a great job. Made it much more difficult. I told the team not to worry, just play well. We played well in patches. This is what happens if you don’t finish the game. India chief coach Graham Reid said they are a good team when you give them a chance.
“Now we have a crossover game against New Zealand. It’s going to be tough. We’ve played them here and in the Pro League. They’ll come out like Wales did, with gusto.
Importantly, Reid said that Hardik, who missed England with a hamstring strain, is likely to return for the crossover clash against New Zealand.
“At the end of the day, we have won. In matches where we have to score a certain number of goals… there is pressure. We gave them a chance to play easy balls. We wanted to put pressure on them but it was like that. “No. Not satisfied because it wasn’t our best game. We know we can do better,” Harmanpreet said.
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