Wednesday, January 18, 2023

India's World Cup hockey team is getting ready to face Wales 17 against 18

Hockey World Cup: India preparing for 17 vs 18 against Wales?

 BHUBANESWAR: It's hard to find a player who can also attack and be the team's engine room. Whose blistering runs past defenders recall the play of Shahbaz Ahmed or Dhanraj Pillay? The rise of Hardik Singh, particularly his performance at the Hockey World Cup, has set a high standard for the others. However, the 24-year-old midfielder may have to wait a while before he can set a higher standard in the Odisha tournament.

When India landed on the training field at the Kalinga Stadium on Tuesday, there was a mixture of relief and anxiety. Hardik's presence provided some respite. He was unable to stand on his own forty-eight hours ago and was taken off the field in the match against England on January 15 with assistance after suffering what appeared to be a hamstring injury. He was able to walk on Tuesday.

According to Hardik's own words, the injury has turned out to be a "mild strain." The MRI scan's results, which have not been made public yet, appear to rule out a problem with the hamstring.

On the sidelines of India's training session, Hardik stated, "It's a mild strain, nothing to do with the hamstring, so I am okay."

India appears to be hopeful that Hardik will return for the knockout rounds at this point, which may explain why the team management has not yet requested Hardik's replacement from the FIH.

Jugraj Singh, a defender, and Rajkumar Pal, a midfielder, are the two reserves who are working out with India's 18-man squad.

This effectively indicates that the match on Thursday could pit India's 17 against Wales' 18.

India would have been hard pressed to not do that when up against any of the best teams. But it's a calculated risk against the World Cup debutants, and coach Graham Reid might want to take it. Naturally, the think tank of the team needs to be sure that Hardik will be available for the knockout stages and that they can handle the math against Wales.

England and India are tied on points (4 each) after two Pool D games, but India leads on goal difference. With three points secured, Spain is also vying for first place, and they will play England before India plays Wales. So, captain Harmanpreet Singh and his team would know what they need to do before their match to finish first in Pool and directly advance to the quarterfinals.

If Hardik's World Cup unfortunately ends prematurely, India will face a difficult choice: bring in Jugraj to try to fix their penalty corner woes in the first two matches or choose a midfielder (Rajkumar).

At this point, none of India's drag flicks from penalty corners have resulted in goals. Harmanpreet Singh's flicks, Jarmanpreet Singh's slap-hits, and Amit Rohidas and Manpreet Singh's variations and dummies have all failed to outwit their opponents.

India has a lot of work to do, and they also lack men.

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