Nothing but win can keep India in reckoning
Melbourne, Mar 17 (UNI) Defending champion India will have to win against South Africa tomorrow in the women's hockey competition to keep their hopes for podium finish alive.
A draw will make their progress tough and defeat would mean end of the road for them as far as medal hunt is concerned. Having been blown away by the sheer pace and agility of Australians in their opener the Indian girls will have to regroup themselves for the tie against the African champions.
''We will have to play much better than what we did against the hosts yesterday, the girls know the importance of the match against South Africa'' said coach M K Kaushik.
The coach said ''we will have to play an attacking game and not allow them to take over the space.
Yesterday, the Hockeyroos simply overwhelmed the Indians and never allowed the defending champions to settle down. The Manchester gold medal winners will have to redraw their strategy and tactics.
The Indians need to keep the pace of the game slow, because yesterday they just could not match the pace of their rivals. It is one thing to flourish for 15 or 20 minutes than to stay put for 70 minutes.
They need not play to the galleries. Dribbling and stick work pleases the crowd but it does not fetch goals in modern day game, which though purists may dislike is hit and run.
Mamta Kharab, Saba Anjum, Jyoti Kullu, played well in the opener but they will have to sharpen their attack and capitalise on the chances that come their way. It is no use running around and wasting energy. Every thrust has to be incisive.
Kanti Baa and Rajwinder did well in the defence but then conceded ten penalty corners. Indians were lucky that Australians could convert only two, but South Africa may not be so generous. Helen Mary was outstanding as goalkeeper.
The Indians need to score and earn three points, that is the bottom line. South African mainly play ''hit and run'' game and they will try to increase the pace of the game from the start and that is the trap which Indians will have to avoid.
It is going to be tough but then it is not beyond Indians. They can rebound and a win tomorrow will give their morale a tremendous boost.
UNI HSB AD RK0920