In­dia gear up for Dutch chal­lenge

Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur) - - World - Press Trust of In­dia sports­desk@hindustantimes.com

HWL SEMI­FI­NAL Af­ter three easy wins, In­dia are ex­pected to face tough op­po­si­tion

In­dia’s ram­pag­ing form would be put through a tough test when they take on world No 4 The Nether­lands in their fi­nal Pool B match of the Hockey World League Semi-Fi­nal, here on Mon­day.

In­dia, ranked sixth in the world, are presently atop in Pool B with three wins from as many games, while The Nether­lands are placed sec­ond with two wins from two games.

But go­ing by per­for­mance so far in the tour­na­ment, In­dia hold an edge over Nether­lands as they have so far recorded con­vinc­ing wins in the tour­na­ment.

In­dia de­feated Scot­land 4-1, Canada 3-0 be­fore de­mol­ish­ing arch-ri­vals Pak­istan 7-1 in their first three games.

Nether­lands, on the other hand, beat Pak­istan 4-0 be­fore get­ting the bet­ter of Scot­land 3-0 in their first two games. On form, In­dia are ex­pected to give Nether­lands a run for their money to­mor­row, pro­vided they can keep their com­po­sure on the turf.

With their place al­ready se­cured in the quar­ter­fi­nals, In­dia would be hop­ing to keep up the good work and keep a clean slate go­ing into the busi­ness end of the tour­na­ment.

Bar­ring a few lapses early in their games, the In­di­ans have been clin­i­cal so far in the tour­na­ment, con­trol­ling the pro­ceed­ings in each and ev­ery match.

The per­for­mance of In­dia’s for­ward-line has been out­stand­ing with the likes of Ra­man­deep Singh, Akashdeep Singh and Tal­winder Singh show­cas­ing their bril­liance with the stick by scor­ing some fan­tas­tic goals.

The mid-field, led by a tal­is­manic Sar­dar Singh, and also fea­tur­ing the likes of skip­per Man­preet Singh, has been pro­vid­ing am­ple sup­port to the strik­ers.

In the ab­sence of key play­ers like Rupin­der­pal Singh, In­dia’s young back­line, led by Har­man­preet Singh, has dis­played gritty per­for­mances and con­ceded just two goals.

In­dia’s re­serve goal­keep­ers -Vikas Dahiya and Akash Chikta -- too have been bril­liant un­der the bar in the ab­sence of reg­u­lar skip­per and one of the best cus­to­di­ans of the world, PR Sree­jesh.

The Nether­lands, who are tak­ing on Canada later in the day, will none­the­less start favourites. The re­sult of the match will de­cide the leader of Pool B.

Go­ing by the per­for­mances so far, it would be hard to pre­dict the win­ner to­mor­row as there is hardly any­thing to sep­a­rate the two sides.

The win­ner of Tues­day’s match will play the fourth-placed team in the quar­ter­fi­nals.

PTI

Pool lead­ers In­dia have been clin­i­cal in the three group en­coun­ters so far.

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