Commonwealth Games 2018: Sjoerd Marijne’s India have task cut out | other sports | Hindustan Times
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Commonwealth Games 2018: Sjoerd Marijne’s India have task cut out

India will face their biggest challenge from Australia who have won all men’s hockey titles at the Commonwealth Games in past editions

other sports Updated: Mar 26, 2018 12:45 IST
B Shrikant
The Indian men’s national hockey team will face a stiff challenge from Australia at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games 2018.
The Indian men’s national hockey team will face a stiff challenge from Australia at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games 2018.(PTI)

Having won the men’s hockey title five out of five times in Commonwealth Games, it would be an understatement to say that Australia have dominated the sport. And, given their form, it is unlikely any team will be able to challenge them for a sixth title.

Sjoerd Marijne-coached India are the second-highest ranked team in the event but upstaging the Kookaburras will be easier said than done. To add to India’s woes, they are in a tough group with the likes of England, Pakistan and Malaysia.

TRICKY CUSTOMERS

Both England and Pakistan are tricky customers and can cause an upset. With only the top two teams from each pool qualifying for the last-four stage, one bad match can hinder a team’s chances of progressing to the knockout stage. Thus India, a mixture of experience and youth, will have to be at their best to add gold to the two silver won in 2010 and 2014. Hockey made its Commonwealth Games debut at Kuala Lumpur in 1998. For India, Gold Coast will be the testing ground for tougher challenges ahead, such as the Asian Games in Indonesia — the qualifying event for the 2020 Olympic Games, the Champions Trophy at Breda, Netherlands in June and the World Cup in Bhubaneswar in November-December.

CURRENT FORM

Hockey form sentiments, Sardar and Singh. India not as given evident has gone precedence in by the current axing to of a few The youngsters team management on the New has Zealand tested tour and Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia and picked a side they think can do the job in Gold Coast. “Commonwealth Games may not be our priority but the Indian team always plays to win and this time too it will not be different,” said Marijne.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Manpreet Singh: In the absence of Sardar Singh, the skipper will have to shoulder greater responsibility and be the fulcrum in the midfield. Manpreet has to be steady and needs to control his players as they tend to lose focus towards the end.

Harmanpreet Singh: The 22-year-old drag flicker is developing into a vital cog in the backline and will have to be consistent while taking penalty corners and also in defence.

SV Sunil: Indian forwards have lacked consistency for the last many years and, as the most experienced player up front, SV Sunil will have to lead from the front.