So India warm-up for the *BIG MATCH* against arch-rivals Pakistan with a convincing, dominating performance against a good Poland side. Paul Van Ass would be concerned about the team not converting from any of the three penalty corners but the performance was clinical in every other department. The final shot count was 14 to 2 in favour of India. Silky finishes from Walmiki's - young and old - and a stinging hit from Sardar ensure India maintain their winning start in Antwerp.
Sardar Singh: "This 2nd game was really good for us. Though we are never really satisfied with our performance, we showed improvements today. As you know, next game is against PAKISTAN and we are ready for it!"
Devindar with his second of the tournament. Another chance created through the center, a ferocious shot into the circle from Chinglensana is very cleverly deflected by the younger Walmiki with his back to the goal. Silky use of the stick there by the youngster. What a tournament he is having!
GOAL INDIA! 3-0 DEVINDRA WALMIKI!
A splitting, sweeping hit from the left finds Yuvraj in yards of space inside the circle. He smashes a shot at the 'keeper but it hits the leg and goes out. Don't think the 'keeper knew much about that one.
GREAT CHANCE FOR YUVRAJ! GOOD SAVE MATUSZAK!
MISSED! Third time still unlucky. Another variation tried by India but all they can manage is a deflected shot on goal, which to be fair, was well-saved by Matuszak. Could have been blind-sided there, but stayed alert.
PENALTY CORNER #3 FOR INDIA! Manpreet wins it.
End of Q3: IND 2-0 POL. A dominating performance by The Men in Blue so far. Let's keep up the momentum in Q4! #HWL2015
Devindra Walmiki with a green card in the final seconds of the Q3. India with 10 men to start Q4.
End of Q3, India take a 2-0 lead heading into the final quarter.
Lovely dribble into the shooting circle, getting past a couple of defenders and then unleashing a ferocious shot on the reverse that sneaks between the legs of the Polish 'keeper. Excellent, excellent goal by the Indian Captain.
GOAL! Captain Sardar Singh for India! 2-0!
India still need 1-0 with 3 mins to go in Q3.
Sreejesh with another save after a scramble in the shooting circle. India try to counter, but nothing comes of it.
MISSED ! India try a variation from the Penalty corner and it comes to nothing. Manpreet manages to get a shot away but it hits the face of the Polish defender. No conversion from India yet.
PENALTY CORNER TO INDIA! Good stick skills from Sardar to win that. No referral needed there.
Great dribble that started from left to the middle from Lalit puts Poland under pressure but his ferocious shot hits Akashdeep on his leg who had no time to react. Good move India. Another shot from the center.
STAT ALERT: India with 12 circle penetrations compared to Poland's 2. Shots 8 to 2 in favour of India.
Gurbaj Singh with a clever dodge to beat the defender inside the circle but shoots wide of goal.
Third quarter begins, India lead 1-0.
Paul Van Ass: Smart job in throwing the balls high. One time clicked. It's a big pitch, we need to make use of it to break better in the second half. Hope our next goal froms the center.
Poland want to stay close to India till the fourth quarter says Polish Technical Director.
At the end of the second quarter, India with a 1-0 lead over Poland. Sardar's men started on the front foot but the first big chance fell to Poland off a Penalty corner which was saved by Sreejesh. Quickly after that India took the lead through Yuvraj who kept his cool to flick it over the goalkeeper. India could not convert their first penalty corner at the end of the half.
Entertaining match so far.
Matuszak with the save. It was a good injection from India, the shot was well hit by Manpreet but equally well saved. Not very different from Sreejesh's save from earlier.
And that will be HALF TIME in Antwerp.
PENALTY CORNER TO INDIA! Dharamveer wins it for India. Less than a minute to go in Q2.
It really was a good finish from Yuvraj. Rushed to celebrate with his younger brother Devindar immediately after scoring.
GOAL! IND 1-0 POL. A stroke of brilliance from Yuvraj Walmiki to give India the lead. #HWL2015
The Walmiki brothers have a goal each in the tournament so far. Yuvraj is alert to a deflection from Polish defender's stick. Adjusts nicely and lifts the ball over the 'keeper. Opportunistic goal, but excellent finish.
India lead 1-0 in Q2 with 5 mins to go.
GOAL INDIA!! YUVRAJ WALMIKI SCORES!
STAT ALERT: For all the possession domination from India,both teams have two shots on goal each. India not creating sufficient clear cut chances here.
Great Save SREEJESH from a well-executed penalty corner. That came at him in 114 kph. Steps forward and flings himself to the right. Great reflexes from the Indian custodian.
Still 0-0 in Q2.
PENALTY CORNER POLAND! Can Poland convert?
Satbir Singh with a nice bit of skill to floor the Polish defender, with some excellent stick control. No clear cut chances yet so far. Gurbaj Singh's long hit from the right stopped by Poland.
Poland with a better start to this quarter.
Early chance for Poland! Manpreet loses the ball in India's own half. Poland break at goal but Indian defenders get back in time and nothing comes out of it.
Q2 begins. Still 0-0.
Make that 6 as India break at speed from a rare Poland attack. Comes to nothing after Yuvraj is called for a foul inside the circle.
STAT ALERT: India outnumber Polan 5-0 as far as circle penetrations are concerned.
India 0-0 Poland (Q1: 4 mins to go)
India have won a slew of long corners. Dominating proceedings here with 5 mins to go in the first quarter.
Good chance India! Excellent play down the right flank, sets up a great chance on the turn for Lakra. He strikes it well, but it is well saved from Polish keeper. From the following scrap, no one to convert at the far as the ball was dragged back from the left.
It's all India so far, as they move the ball at speed from one side to the other. Poland have hardly come out of their own half. Good penetration from the right circle.
Antwerp, Belgium: After an unconvincing 3-2 win over France, India seek an improved performance as they face Poland in a pool A contest of the Hockey World League (HWL) Semi-Final at the Brasschaat Municipal Park on Tuesday.
World No.9 India required Ramandeep Singh's 59th minute goal to edge past world No.18 France on Saturday. Their defence looked shaky and the strikers lacked in finishing.
File photo of Indian Hockey Team. AP
Going by Poland's performance in the first match where they put up a brave show against four-time World Cup winners Pakistan before going down 1-2, Paul van Ass-coached India need to play with much more caution.
Moreover, in the last match between the eight-time Olympics champions India and Poland, the former witnessed a bitter history. India were leading the crucial league match 1-0 in the Sydney Olympic games and were almost close to sealing their place in the semi-final, when Poland's Tomasz Cichy scored an equaliser in the dying moment and stopped India from getting into the last four.
The result was disheartening for that Indian team and this time, the Sardar Singh-led side is confident of not repeating the history.
"The defeat in Sydney Olympic is still fresh in many hockey players and we will not repeat the mistakes made in the match. We will continue our strategy of keeping the ball possession on our side and play aggressively till the last minute," Sardar said in a release.
"The win against France boosted our morale and we have set our feet in Antwerp. We will play for the win only.
"Poland is a good team and if they are in the Semi-Final that means they have some quality players in their team. We can't afford to take them lightly at any moment."
The biggest positive for India from the last match was centre-half Sardar, 28. He looked at his best and was light in movements as he played crucial roles in two of the goals scored by the 2014 Asian Games champions.
Along with Sardar, midfielders Gurbaj Singh, Dharamvir Singh, Chinglensana Singh and young Lalit Upadhyay will try to create opportunities for forwards Ramandeep, Akashdeep Singh, Nikkin Thimmaiah, Devindar Sunil Walmiki and Yuvraj Walmiki. The defence line-up will be formed by Rupinder Pal Singh, Birendra Lakra, Manpreet Singh and vice-captain P.R. Sreejesh will be on the goal.
“The first match was a good one for us and we will continue our form in the next match. We are not considering Poland as minnows because they have some noticeable talents who are a cause for worry for us. We will stick to our strategies of the previous match but will make some changes in the team combinations," India chief coach van Ass said.
"We have some good young players and I want to give them more opportunities. Having said that, we will not give any chance to Poland to dominate the match and we are looking for a win against them."