Hockey World Cup: A disjointed show by Team India

Now India will now play the 9-16 classification matches. They will take on Japan on 26 January.

Hockey World Cup: A disjointed show by Team India

India players celebrate a goal against Wales (File Photo: ANI)

Before the start of the World Cup, a big hype was built up around Harmanpreet and his boys. Coach Graham Reid hoped that luck would favour them again, as it did in Tokyo Olympics and Commonwealth Games. However, this euphoria came crashing down.

Reid and Harmanpreet overlooked Indian dismal showing in the Asia Cup, where they had finished behind Korea, Japan and Malaysia thereby losing out the podium finish in the tournament for the first time.

India depended largely on pushing their luck more often than not but paid a heavy price in front of the packed partisan crowd who returned home disappointed.


It was hoped that this would be third time lucky for India as the nation was hosting the third World in a space of 12 years(2010 Delhi,2018,2023 Odisha). But it turned out to be a disaster. In the earlier two editions at home, India had finished higher than what they would achieve here.

India struggled from the very start and after a sluggish 2-0 win against Spain in the opener, the hosts had harrowing time in next two pool matches against England and Wales narrowly managing to earn points.

Their agony ended as they lost to New Zealand in the cross over to qualify for the last eight. It was a match that was in their grasp. But they let it go despite having the Kiwis reduced to 10 with their captain and defender Nick Wood being suspended for 5 minutes at the fag-end of the fourth quarter.

Interestingly, the Kiwis had underperformed far more than India in their pool matches. In their 3 matches, they had scored less and conceded more. Their forwards struggled against lesser ranked Malaysia and Chile. They finished third in their group while India was second (two wins and a draw).

However, New Zealand needed just one good match to make it to the quarterfinals and that happened on Sunday. The Kiwis struck when it mattered as the hosts suffered an embarrassing loss in the shootout.

The way India played they didn’t deserve to win either. The hosts faltered at big moments repeatedly, both during the regulation time and the shootout which stretched to a second one of five shots each.

The Indian squad sorely lacked the temperament to not only score from penalty corners and open play, leave aside half chances. The absence of a sports psychologist or mental trainer appeared to be very evident as the strikers kept repeatedly fumbling in the rival‘s striking circles.

Indian forwards lacked cohesion and mid field looked tentative throughout. Harmanpreet was a big let-down as India could convert only five of 26 Penalty corners they earned.

The defence often caved in as it happened against lowly Wales and New Zealand.

Coach Reid summed up the Indian performance when he was asked that the country has been waiting for 48 years to win a medal at the World Cup.

He replied “It’s an interesting and very good question. I don’t know the answer. I think at the end of the day, you have to keep practicing and keep creating opportunities. It’s very hard to score. As far as drills, training, everything else is concerned we do what all other teams do. I have been in this game for a long time and I know what other teams do. I don’t think there is necessarily a silver bullet. I think mentally following this we will try and work out how to get a mental coach involved. We need to do something different perhaps.”

India will now play the 9-16 classification matches. They will play Japan on 26 January and then, win or lose their next match on the 28th in Rourkela.