FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup: Hardik is better, may not play against Wales

There is some reprieve in the Indian camp as initial medical reports of midfielder Hardik Singh have ruled out any torn hamstring. He may not be able to take the field against Wales in the last game of the pool. He may, however, after rest and recovery be able to play in the knockout rounds. Indian team officials are keeping their fingers crossed as pain has subsided and Hardik SIngh is feeling much better.

India is also at a slight advantage as it plays the last match of the pool. By the time it takes the field against winless Wales, its target would be crystal clear . Depending upon the outcome of the Spain-England match, India will know what outcome against Wales can make it group leader besides getting direct qualification to the quarter-finals.

Indian players, team management and even ardent hockey fans would wish the Spain-England game to go the way India-England match went, a draw. This wishful thinking will have no place in the thinking of team managements of both England and Spain. Both of them would go all out for win. If England wins, India’s task would become onerous as it would have no choice but to score a big flattering win. A draw between the two teams would relieve India of big match eve pressure.

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Wales may have lost both its games against England and Spain but there is no push over. It plays tough and dogged hockey and may pose serious problems for the home team.Scoring six to seven goals against them would be a herculean task.

The Indian team has to go in with a relaxed and full of action mind set against its opponent team. It has not only to make full use of chances coming its way but also make sure that its defence stands out and does not allow much room for Wales to have a closer look at its goal. In all, the team taking its chances and defending its fort well will meet its aspirations of playing the quarter-finals without going through the rigmaroles of cross over matches.

Except for the Netherlands, other fancied teams, including defending champions Belgium, pre-tournament favourites Australia, former Olympic champions Argentina, and former World Cup champions Germany too are in the same boat as their fate for progressing to the knockout stage hangs on their last group matches. Exciting and absorbing hockey is ahead. It may have some pleasant surprises. Mark my word, the ultimate winner will be the game.

Prabhjot Singh

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