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Hockey: India in a fix

India need a big win against SA and hope that Malaysia does not win or draw against Pakistan to keep its medal hopes alive.

india Updated: Mar 21, 2006 18:13 IST
Harpal Singh Bedi (UNI)
Harpal Singh Bedi (UNI)

India need a big win against South Africa in their last league match on Wednesdayand hope that Malaysia does not win or draw against Pakistan in the men's hockey competition of the Commonwealth Games.

The Indian predicament is of their own making. They drew a match against Malaysia, which they should have won easily, allowed Pakistan to go on a scoring blitz and conceded a crucial goal against the lowly Trinidad and Tobago.

The Indians have a tough match against South Africa, which is not an easy team to beat. The African Champions surprised Pakistan with a draw and narrowly missed creating an upset against Malaysia on Tuesday.

The Indian forwards have shown a lack of imagination in the earlier matches and seem to be playing without any game plan. The way they have missed chances, it looks that they have a very tough hurdle to cross.

Not only do the Indians have to win but they also have to worry about the other match between Pakistan and Malaysia.

Malaysia is sniffing a chance of making it to the last four and they will not allow Pakistan any easy access.

Even a big victory against South Africa may not sort out India's problems as Malaysia and Pakistan will play after them.

In case India wins by a two-goal margin and Malaysia loses by one goal, Malaysia will be through because of the better goal difference. So, both India and Pakistan will have to win, no matter what, tomorrow.

Indian forwards -- Deepak Thakur, Tejbir Singh, Tushar Khandekar and Rajpal Singh -- will have to be more imaginative. There is no use playing to the galleries. The dribbling and stick work earns applause from the crowds but can not fetch the goals and that is exactly what India need on Wednesday.

Surprisingly, against Pakistan the normally dependable Indian mid-field also looked tentative. The trio of Ignace Tirkey, Prabodh Tirkey and Vikram Pillay failed to supplement the forwards who, in any case, were wayward.

The Indians seemed to be dependent on penalty corner expert Sandeep Singh but even he has not been in his elements. Though he scored four goals against lowly Trinidad and Tabago -- three of them were penalty corner conversions -- he muffed up at least other seven penalty corners.

The defence, in the absence of Harpal Singh, also looks vulnerable and it was quite visible against Malaysia and Pakistan. Kanwalpreet and Sandeep have their work cut out. Not let any goal in and keep the pressure on the rivals.

The South Africans will also be going with a game plan to win. They are in the same position as India and if they win and Malaysia loses to Pakistan, they will be through. This very thought must be a big morale boosting factor for the Africans.

While playing against South Africa, the outcome of the next match between Pakistan and Malaysia will be weighing heavily on the Indian minds and that can prove dangerous. The Indians will have to remain focused on their match and leave the rest to luck.

First Published: Mar 21, 2006 18:13 IST