Raipur, Dec 2 (IANS) Without a win from three pool games, India will have to pull up their socks and produce their A game when they take on Britain in the quarter-finals of the Hero Hockey World League (HWL) Final at the Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel International Stadium here on Thursday. The world No.6 finished at the bottom of the table in the fourth spot in Pool B with just one point, after losing 0-3 to Argentina, holding Olympic champions Germany to a 1-1 draw and losing 1-3 to the Netherlands. On the other hand, world No.4 Britain topped Pool A with two wins, including a remarkable victory over world champions Australia. Even though Britain are without their talismanic captain Barry Middleton and star hitman Ashley Jackson, the Bobby Crutchley-coached side has played clinical hockey.
Captain Dan Fox has marshalled his unit effectively, while Nick Catlin, Harry Martin and David Condon are also delivering in the midfield. Their attacking unit — mainly formed of Alastair Brogdon, Alan Forsyth and Simon Mantell — has managed to score 11 goals so far — the highest in the tournament. India’s performance so far has not been satisfactory in the ongoing tournament. The hosts should be thankful to the format which helped them make it to the quarter-finals despite being placed at the bottom in the pool stages without a win. The 2014 Asian Games champions will again rely on skipper Sardar Singh to take the initiative up-front against a top side in all the departments of the game. India’s chief coach Roelant Oltmans will have to regroup his boys ahead of the crucial encounter to deliver well in front of the home fans. The side need to surely do their homework well ahead of the clash if they are to advance. Other than the skipper, Akashdeep Singh, Ramandeep Singh, S.V. Sunil and Talwinder Singh, who are highly rated forwards, have disappointed utterly in the previous three games.
Amongst them all, Akashdeep is one to watch out for who scored the only goal for his side against Germany. The defenders duo of V.R. Raghunath and Rupinderpal Singh will shoulder the responsibility of penalty corners conversions. Other defenders in focus will be Birendra Lakra, Manpreet Singh and Jasjit Singh Kular, while linkmen Dharamvir Singh and Danish Mujtaba will have to improve their coordination.
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