Yes, it hurts. As a player, and as an Indian, it hurts to lose to Pakistan. There is no denying this.
I also admit that there were lapses today that led to the loss. And, it was more to do with our game and the pressure than anything else. At the same time, full credit to Pakistan on the way they came back from a goal down in the second half.
It was a game of two halves. I had said earlier that this would be a test of temperament for the youngsters in our team. Many of them were playing Pakistan for the first time. I will not say that they were taking this as more than just a match but the pressure did matter. And in the first 35 minutes, they showed they were up to the occasion.
But things changed in the second. Pakistan went for broke and they made the half chances count. There were a lot of wrong passes from our side and almost every ball landed up with the opposition. And when you are up against a side like Pakistan, which has a lot of senior players and at least one very experienced person in every area of play, such mistakes can prove costly.
Once they got the equaliser, Pakistan were a different team. They went all out and with every attack they tried, our boys went further on the defensive. That only made things worse. For most of the second half, we could not come out of our 25-yard mark. It was not something we had planned and it has not happened so far in this tournament but it happened today. There are no excuses for that.RIVALS UPPED THE BAR
I had said there is some extra energy that comes into both India and Pakistan when they play each other in any sport. Today, it was Pakistan who upped the bar. At the same time, I had also said that giving away penalty corners to them would be dangerous. I was proved right --- they scored two of their three goals off penalty-corners and even earned a couple more that went waste.
On the other hand, Rupinder has been in top form for us and he has improved with every outing, but today he too had a bad day.
Every player can have it and when you are inexperienced, under pressure and know the team is relying completely on you, it can tell.
I will not read much into this defeat. It is a learning experience and through this tournament, we have beaten a much higher ranked team (Britain) and drawn the world champions (Australia). So, there are positives and there are improvements and we have to think beyond Pakistan. But yes, the heart feels more pain at a loss to Pakistan.
There is still a numerical possibility for us to make the final but right now we are not thinking about that. We play our last league match against New Zealand tomorrow and we are only looking at winning it.
Three points from that match will make our position better and then it will be up to the rest of the teams. However, that’s still some way off. I am still very proud of this team and, as a senior player and captain, I consider them bright prospects.