India brace up for Dutch test in HWL Semifinal
LONDON, 19th June: Having already secured their berth in the quarter-finals, India will face their first big test when they take on higher-ranked Netherlands in their final Pool B game of the Hockey World League (HWL) Semifinal here on Tuesday.
Roelant Oltmans' boys have bagged three consecutive victories in the pool stage so far at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Stadium. While beating Scotland 4-1 and Canada 3-0 fuelled India's start at the tournament, it was the 7-1 win against Pakistan on Sunday that brought jubilation back home among the Indian sports buffs.
However, India's skipper Manpreet Singh does not want to read too much into the victory, which also happens to be the biggest win (six-goal margin) against their arch-foes in hockey history. "It was a very good win for us not because it was against Pakistan but because we did well in the areas that had concerned us when we played the 3 Nations Invitational Tournament in Germany before coming to London," stated Manpreet.
According to the skipper, India's conversion rate in field goals is now 'well above 30 per cent' which is what the team was vying for. "In our previous tournaments though our statistics in terms of ball possession was very good, and even the number of circle penetrations was encouraging, we were missing goal scoring chances," he said in a release.
"But now we have overcome that setback with high scoring match against Pakistan. We just want to keep up this momentum," he emphasised. The Dutch team is ranked No.4 in the world and are seeded No.2 behind Olympic Gold medallists Argentina in this tournament. A win against them will ensure that the Indian team goes into the quarter-finals as table toppers in Pool B.