A few days before the World League Final, India defeated World No 1 Australia in a Test. They put up a superb display, challenging the Aussies in each of the three Tests and that left their fans pleasantly surprised.
Presumably the Indians were dreaming big, talking of aiming for the semi-finals at the Hockey World League Final. The first step in that direction was a victory against Argentina in their opening match on Friday, forgetting even the fact that Argentina have emerged winners in four of the five encounters between the two teams. But their hopes crashed spectacularly as an energetic Argentina playing compact and error-free emerged 3-0 winners. The India side that stepped on to the newly-installed blue synthetic turf at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Hockey Stadium in Raipur was a pale shadow of the one that made the Kookaburras sweat.
Argentina’s young penalty corner expert Gonzalo Peillat scored a brace off penalty corners while Joaquin Menini slotted home a rebound off a Peillat drag flick to leave the South Americans a happy lot. “I am very disappointed with the result. The boys themselves would be disappointed by their performance. They failed to stick to the game plan, gave too much space in defence and totally lacked energy and pace. But I think it was just a case of one bad day and I am sure they would be able to pick themselves up for the match against Germany tomorrow,” said a dejected Roelant Oltmans, Team India’s director, high performance, who is also doubling up as the Chief coach.
Skipper Sardar Singh said: “I don’t know what happened. We will have to sit down and discuss it with the coaches. The team totally lacked energy. We know we are capable of playing far better.”
The lack of effort was evident in every department as the players committed errors galore in midfield and defence. The fact that in the entire 60 minutes, India could manage only one penalty corner tells the true story of a totally listless performance.