Women's Hockey World Cup 2018: How India can qualify for the quarterfinal despite the loss to Ireland
The Green Army soldiers were all smiles as they made their way out to the centre while the Indians looked intense ahead of their second encounter.
The Irish kept smiling through the anthems like they were enjoying every moment on the pitch but broke into tears just as the final hooter sounded. Tears of joy, they were though, as Graham Shaw and his girls could hardly contain their emotions.
Ireland outplay India in the heat
Rightly so too, as Ireland - the second-lowest ranked team in the competition became the first to qualify for the quarterfinals of the World Cup.
They ran faster, were razor-sharp with their trapping, their interceptions, and their passes, and seemed hungrier than the Indians on the day.
"This is Indian weather, and we love to play in this weather'' said, Rani, as the teams took the field amidst the sweltering heat. The mercury touched 33 degrees and the Indian skipper sounded upbeat, "It (the weather) will favor us," she opined.
An ingenious PC routine caught the Indians unawares and Anna O'Flanagan latched on to Shirley McCay's flick to put the Irish ahead in the 12th minute.
McCay had a brilliant match and proved that as the most experienced player on both sides, her contribution was unmatchable.
The Indians were unable to match the pace of the Irish, lacked a sense of urgency, allowed the Irish to steal possession time and again and were simply not creative enough in the attacking circle.
Rani decided to have a go at the death when she could have passed to Vandana who was in a perfect position to take a shot.
Earlier, Vandana herself was a trifle slow to react when Nicola Daly swooped into the circle from behind and stole the ball after Udita had a directed a great pass just after half-time.
India simply lacked the finesse at the back which got them home in the last match and was clearly playing second-fiddle throughout.
Neither Gurjit nor Deep Grace could get the PCs into the net as Ayeisha McFerran stood tall under the post.
Nicola Evans could have scored a second for Ireland but missed a sitter in front of an open goal.
Graham Shaw was stoic as ever when his team beat the Americans but broke into tears as his girls created history at London.
All is not lost, however, and although Ireland will top Pool B and gain direct entry into the quarters irrespective of what happens in the following matches, the Golden Girls can still make it through to the knockouts via the playoffs.
One last chance for India on Sunday
For a start, India who is currently third in Pool B has to beat the last-placed team USA to ensure they do not finish bottom in which case elimination is certain. If England beat Wales in their last match, then the English will end at five points, and at second place, while a draw will see them end with 3 points from as many matches.
India has a single point from two games and a win against the Americans will increase their tally to four in which case they will progress to the playoffs.
In case England lose against Ireland, and India and the USA play out a draw, all three teams will then have two points in their kitty.
What happens then?
In case of a stalemate where points are concerned, the following factors will be considered: Goal difference, Goals Scored, and Head-to-Head Result - in that particular order.
If India does make it to the playoffs as the second-placed team, they will then play the team which finishes third in Pool A, while a third-place finish for India, will see them clash with the second-placed team in Pool A.
India may have the edge in the playoffs
Although a string of topsy-turvy results have upset many calculations, assuming that defending champions Netherlands top Pool A, India will then have to play either China, Korea, or Italy in the playoffs.
The Indian girls have beaten the Chinese on four occasions in the past couple of years and will be confident of doing so again.
India lost to South Korea in the finals of the Asian Champions Trophy earlier this year but beat the Koreans in the previous edition at Singapore in 2016, and also earlier this year, as part of a preparatory tour before the CWG.
Italy is the lowest-ranked team at London and beating them is the least the Indians should be able to do, in spite of the fact that the Italians upset China 3-0.
The Indians do have a favourable draw, as had they been in a different Pool (C or D), they would then have had to contend with sides like Argentina who they lost to in the HWL Semifinal last year by a 0-3 margin or Spain who thrashed South Africa by a 7-1 margin today.
Sjoerd Marijne's side would also be happy, at least for now, to avoid sides like Australia or New Zealand in the playoffs who they have lost to on numerous occasions in the past.
The Indians have three days to regroup before facing off against the Americans. Ireland's performance has meant that rankings mean nothing and perhaps, India too can continue the trend to upset the USA and make their way into the playoffs.
Can India qualify for the quarter-finals of the World Cup? Sound off your opinions in the comments section below!