Even though Team India lost the group game to Australia 4-2 in hockey, they will look to avert any such debacle as the New Zealand come calling in the all-important semis clash.
Even though Team India lost the group game to Australia 4-2 in hockey, they will look to avert any such debacle as the New Zealand come calling in the all-important semis clash of the Commonwealth Games on Saturday.
But here’s the big deal – the Indian hockey men have to face the Kiwis without their influential midfielder, Sardar Singh.
The skipper has been suspended for one match following his second dangerous offence in the tournament.
Sardar was reprimanded during the Australia game and was followed by a yellow card against South Africa. The authorities initially had handed him a two-match ban but after an appeal by the Indian contingent, the suspension was reduced to one.
So how will the Indian hockey team do without their midfield maestro in the semi-final clash against the Kiwis?
Coach Terry Walsh has taken a balanced team to the CWG that saw the Men in Blue win three out of their allotted four matches. Walsh’s side has a fair combination of experience and youngsters and no wonder; the results are there to see.
The likes of VR Raghunath, Rupinder Pal Singh add the vital experience to the side with the likes of Akashdeep Singh and Yuvraj Walmiki adding the youth side to it. Rewinding the clock back to the 1998 at Kuala Lumpur, Team India had tasted success over the Black Sticks but in 2006 Melbourne edition, New Zealand emerged victorious, beating India 2-1 in the 5-6 position playoff. India did not play the Kiwis in 2010 Delhi Games where the hosts settled for silver while the New Zealand took away the bronze medal.
New Zealand are current favourites going into this tie with former ranked number 6 in the world and New several players in the side have more international experience to their name. Their main man will be penalty corner specialist Andy Hayward, who will look to pile up more goals and misery for the Indian hockey team.
Clearly from the outset, Team India looks a bit shaky and deflated (without Sardar Singh). The steel and nerves of Sardar will be missed immensely in the midfield but some of the seniors have to step up the plate and take the team home. Its either make or break for the Hockey side who might not see the light at the end of the tunnel after all!