No doubt, Australia are a great side, who play to their strengths, but there was no reason for India to succumb to the rivals’ game plan and forget their strengths in the bargain.
Getting the first goal was the target, which the Aussies achieved within the third minute. A goal down, India are a different side mentally. They could have played at their pace, but they did not, and there was a lack of understanding between the defence and sweeper-back, defence and forward-line.
Australia, with quick changes, played aggressive hockey, which unnerved the Indian defence. No doubt, the Indians played their heart out but they did not make intelligent moves. They were good in patches, which got us two field goals, but our forwards lacked the confidence to dribble past the defenders in one-on-one situations.
Going by the final score line, one may blame the goalkeeper but Adrian D’Souza did his best to prevent the Aussies from scoring more goals.
India are now in third position in this high-scoring Pool B. They have to pull up their socks to beat an ever-improving Spain. India should play to their potential and penetrate the opponents’ circle more often with through passes or long hits.
Pakistan came in determined to get three points against Spain and there were some good moves from the forward line and a last-minute penalty corner gave them victory. Yet, I am not happy with the way they’re playing. The Indian crowd is looking forward to the magical and skilful hockey that the Pakistanis are known for.
England’s 6-4 victory read like a tennis match score and they deserved the big win. I have seen England play such good, positional hockey, with strategy, after a long time. This team is a strong contender for the semifinals. South Africa also scored four goals but never looked like winning.
The South Africa versus Australia game will be played at a pace that will be set by the latter. After watching their performance against India, Australia seem to have settled down to our conditions and are now favorites for a podium finish. India have to win against Spain and we should not commit the errors we did against Australia. Spain’s style of play is more open and will not have the tight man-to-man marking of the Aussies, which should give our players room to parade their skills. I want the boys to go all out and enjoy their game. Good luck!