'Sunday's win history, tougher challenges ahead'
Former Indian hockey stars were lavish in their praise of the hosts's emphatic 4-1 win over Pakistan in the Hockey World Cup, but felt the boys need to be cautious as tougher challenges lie ahead.Updated: Mar 01, 2010, 20:24 IST
Former Indian hockey stars were lavish in their praise of the hosts's emphatic 4-1 win over Pakistan in the Hockey World Cup, but felt the boys need to be cautious as tougher challenges lie ahead.
Ashok Kumar, a member of the 1975 World Cup wining team, said the Indians were adept in the midfield and the defence Sunday night as they outplayed their sub-continental rivals in the Pool B game at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium here.
"They did not allow Pakistan to attack. They got their basics right," said Ashok, son of hockey legend Dhyan Chand after whom the national stadium is named.
Ashok said Bharat Chikara and Dhananjay Mahadik were excellent in stopping the Pakistani forwards, while Vikram Pillay moved all around the ground.
"They helped each other. The Indian players have shown good team spirit and it is a positive sign," Ashok told IANS.
Noting that the hosts had the maximum ball possession, he said: "We cleared it fast."
Ashok also had good words for Sandeep Singh for being excellent with his flicks. Sandeep scored two goals from penalty corners.
Asked about India's game against Australia Tuesday, he said: "We expect our players to play the way they did against Pakistan. Australia is a good team but they were not up to the mark against England. We will know about the strength of this Australian side after Tuesday's match."
However, Ashok cautioned against complacency. "There are bigger challenges ahead and we should be on guard. For reaching the semifinals, India should eye a win against England."
Zafer Iqbal, who played a stellar role in India's last Olympics gold medal triumph in 1980, said the home side looked fit as a fiddle. "This was an area where the Pakistanis were found wanting."
“We have had a good beginning. We played a very attacking game yesterday (Sunday). But against Australia, we have to be very careful. They are a very strong team. We can't let the Australians play freely. They have many scorers.”
Zaffer said the Indians have to be particularly alert in the first 20 minutes when the Aussies are known to be most dangerous. "We should not allow them to score during this time."
Zaffer said after being shocked 2-3 by England, the Australians are bound to come back hard against the Indians Tuesday.
"We should remember yesterday's game is now history. This group is tough. We should strive for a win, though we need to be cautious at the same time," he added.