The India hockey team, it seems, is having hard time adjusting to the blue surface of the Riverbank arena, which is the venue for the four-nation hockey test event being played in London's Olympic Park.
The pitch, according to team manager Bala Aditya, isn't playing smooth. It's bit slippery. “The players are finding hard to settle down,” the Indian manager told HT over the phone from London.
After losing 0-3 to the world champions Australia in the opening match of the tournament, India went down 2-4 to hosts Great Britain in its second match. But the Indian team management expressed their satisfaction. “The overall performance of the team has been good,” added the team manager. In the match against host nation, India got both its goals from penalty corners but failed to generate momentum to score field goals.
Two early goals by Rob Moore (4th minute) and Simon Montell (11th minute) may have caught India off guard, but they came back in the 16th minute to reduce the margin of defeat when VR Raghunath made no mistake in converting the penalty corner (1-2). India team got another jolt when Ashley Jackson struck in 24th and 26th minute, to take the tally to 4-1 for the hosts nation. Sandeep Singh (Penalty Corner 47th minute) was on target for India.
India goalkeeper PR Sreejesh was impressive under the bar and denied Ashley Jackson from moving the score board in the 40th minute.
But seven minutes later, India earned a penalty corner and Sandeep Singh made it 2-4. In the dying moments of the game, India though made inroads into rival territory, but couldn't go past Britain's defence.
India will now play Germany in their last league encounter of the Four Nation London Olympics Hockey Test Event at the Riverbank Arena, Olympic Park on Saturday.
The Indian team manager, however, brushed aside reports that players aren't comfortable in the chilly weather prevailing at this time of the year in London. “It's not true,” said Aditya. “Cool climate had nothing to do with losing the match.”