The Indians started their Women's Hockey World Cup campaign against hosts and Olympic champions, England with a blistering performance. The Golden Girls nearly caused an upset as Neha Goyal scored before half-time and the Indian defence held firm until midway through the final quarter. when a defensive error helped the English equalize.
Coach Sjoerd Marijne stated that the 1-1 scoreline caused the Indians to be distraught as they felt they could have done better. An improved performance against Ireland in the second match was the aim, but Rani Rampal's girls fell short on several counts against their in-form adversaries, who had disposed of the USA in their opener.
The Irish used a brilliant PC routine which the Indian defence had no answer to, and stormed ahead in the 12th minute. Much as the Indians tried, they failed to trouble Irish goalie Ayeisha McFerran often enough. On the few occasions when they did, McFerran stood firm to deny the Indians the opportunity to equalize.
As a result of the 1-0 win, Ireland, the second-lowest ranked team at London became the first to enter the knockouts and gained direct entry into the quarter-finals.
The bizarre trend continued as Italy, the lowest-ranked team in the World Cup, also made it to the next round by defeating Korea 1-0 in a Pool A clash on Friday night. The Italians had earlier thrashed the Chinese 3-0.
The Dutch girls, however, showed that rankings do matter and the defending champions thrashed Korea 7-0 and China 7-1 en route to a place in the knockouts. Assuming that the Netherlands top Pool A (which seems likely given their ominous form), the Indians will meet either Italy, China, or Korea in the crossover matches, should they qualify.
In the crossovers, the second-placed team from Pool B will meet the third-placed team in Pool A (winner of China-Korea match tomorrow), while the side finishing third in India's pool will meet the loserof the Netherlands-Italy match.
In order to make it to the next round, the Indians need just a draw against the USA. Although both teams have a point each, the Indians with a superior goal difference will progress in case neither team can find a winner on Sunday.
The USA are a team which loves playing with a high press, and the four at the back for India have to look sharp and cannot afford the slightest of errors. The Indian girls seemed to lack pace, intensity, and creativity, in their match against Ireland, and have to rekindle bits of all these elements and also need to remain calm in their do-or-die encounter against the Americans.
Although a draw will suffice for India to finish third in their pool and make it to the crossovers, even a win will not guarantee them of a second-place finish as they will have to await the result of the England-Ireland match which follows.
A crowded Super Sunday will decide the fate of quite a few teams but Indian fans will be focused on the third and penultimate match of the day.
Here is how you can catch up with all the action.
Event: Women's Hockey World Cup 2018
Venue: London, The United Kingdom
Date: 29 July, 2018
Time: 9:30 pm Indian Standard Time (IST)
Telecast: Star Sports 2, Star Sports HD2
Live Streaming: Hotstar
Live Updates: SportskeedaPublished 28 Jul 2018, 18:43 IST