The situation in Pool B is interestingly poised, with the last round of league matches on Monday to decide the topper in the group. The battle is between Australia and England, both facing tricky opposition.
England have been a revelation in this World Cup, accounting for the mighty Aussies in their first outing before going on to win all their matches. Their level of preparedness has come as a surprise. This team is one of the best sides to come out of England in the last 20 years. They take on Spain in an interesting encounter, with the Iberians looking to salvage pride after their loss to Australia and claim a spot in the 5th to 8th placing.
If England win no calculations will come into play, but if Spain manage to pull it off, Australia, with their healthy goal advantage of 16 should top the pool if they beat Pakistan.
Australia have improved with every outing. Their convincing victories over India (5-2), South Africa (12-0) and Spain (2-0) make them one of the favourites of the tournament.
Pakistan have not had the best of campaigns, their recent 3-4 loss to South Africa indicating their slump and it is highly unlikely they will put it across the marauding Aussies.
I was hoping India would pull it off against England to secure a spot in the 5th to 8th placing matches, but that was not to be. I hope they finish their league engagements on a winning note by outclassing South Africa.
Against England, it seemed goalkeeper Adrian D’Souza, defenders Dhananjay Mahadik and Bharat Chikara were mere spectators. Adrian left the post and watched the England striker’s direct hit pass through the Indian defence and beat him hands down.
No doubt the Indians showed urgency in getting a goal but in the bargain made some big defensive errors. We continued to fumble with the penalty corners and I felt the team lacked a leader in the first 35 minutes.
The second half saw a decent fight back from our boys but, unfortunately, we couldn’t get the equaliser. Frustration could be seen in the body language of our boys and when Gurbaj and Sardar Singh were given the marching orders, the game was over for them.
The players should know their responsibility towards the team and a sensible approach could have given them an opportunity to look for the equaliser. I feel we were never ready to compete for a medal in this World Cup, on our home soil. The home advantage never came into play at all for Team India. But I have to say here that in my playing days there was always a leader, who could control the midfield area and lead the team. Boys, it looks like you are not in the right frame of mind after the loss to England, but such situations arise in sport and we have to overcome them.