Preview: Jolted by a loss to the Netherlands, India would look to regroup quickly when they take on Malaysia in the quarter-final of the Hockey World League Semi-Final in London on Thursday.
After registering three convincing wins against Scotland, Canada and Pakistan, India wasted chances galore to slump to a 1-3 defeat against the Netherlands, their first in the tournament.
The loss meant India finished second in Pool B behind Netherlands, who kept a clean slate.
Akashdeep Singh (R) celebrates after scoring during World Hockey League Semi-Final. AP
The Indians only have themselves to blame for the defeat against the Dutch as besides conceding soft goals, they wasted numerous scoring chances.
And come tomorrow, Roelant Oltmans' men cannot afford to repeat the same mistakes against Malaysia, who are capable of springing surprises on their day.
"This was our toughest match in the group and we had our chances, too. The good thing is that we came back after being 3-0 down but we didn't do enough and got punished," coach Oltmans had said after the defeat against Netherlands.
Going by form and ranking, world no. 6 India start overwhelming favourites against the 14th-placed Malaysians.
While striker Akashdeep Singh has been in superb form, scoring some scintillating goals in the tournament, he would look for support upfront from the likes of SV Sunil, Talwinder Singh and Mandeep Singh.
India's midfield, led by the talismanic Sardar Singh and skipper Manpreet Singh, will have to take more responsibility while the inexperienced defence needs to pull up its socks as one bad day in office can now throw the team out of the tournament.
In the absence of Rupinderpal Singh, India were found wanting in penalty corner conversions with the young Harmanpreet Singh and Jasjit Singh Kular failing to live up to the expectations of Oltmans.
But the performances of reserve goalkeepers Vikas Dahiya and Akash Chikte in the absence of an injured PR Sreejesh have been heartening.
Meanwhile, in other quarterfinals of the day, reigning Olympic champions Argentina will play Pakistan, the Netherlands will take on China and hosts England will square off against Canada.
With inputs from PTI
Updated Date: Jun 22, 2017 21:49 PM