Indian hockey

Cracking under pressure? Conceding late goals is a concern for Indian Hockey team ahead of HWL semis

The team conceded crucial goals within the last nine minutes of both their three-nation invitational games against Germany and Belgium.

There’s no more ideal preparation than to face the reigning Olympic runners-up and bronze medalists before a major tournament. India’s training is quite neatly arranged that way ahead of the Hockey World League (HWL) semi-finals. Facing Germany and Belgium before the tournament, Hockey India couldn’t have routed its men to London in a better way.

The three-nation invitational in Dusseldorf was used by Roelant Otlmans to run his checklist. But just one win in four matches wouldn’t have ticked all boxes, with the most evident being cracking under last-quarter pressure.

India squandered their lead to lose 1-2 to Belgium and then allowed the Germans to salvage a 2-2 draw. In both the matches, India conceded crucial goals within the last nine minutes. That leaves question marks hanging on the Indian defence in the absence of PR Sreejesh, the captain and goalkeeper.

Missing Sreejesh

Sreejesh picked up a knee injury during the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup last month and is still recuperating. His place in the squad has been taken by Vikas Dahiya, who, along with Akash Chikte, will man India’s post at the HWL semis in London as well. The duo has a total experience of 36 internationals between them, with Chikte being the senior partner with 24 caps.

With big boots of Sreejesh to fill, the pair was regularly rotated in Dusseldorf, probably to figure out who is India’s best bet in front of goal. But both buckled under the pressure of dying minutes, which means Sreejesh was more than missed.

The back-up goalkeeper continues to be India’s Achilles heel, but Manpreet Singh, who is leading the team in Sreejesh’s absence, has other views. “Vikas and Akash played very well and didn’t concede more than two goals,” he told Scroll.in. “Both of them played on rotation basis to gain more match practice, and I’m sure their performance here will help them build their confidence.”

But he admitted that in most of those four matches, the team slipped in the final quarter. “The [opening] match against Belgium was good,” he said. “We began well and held a 1-0 lead right until the last quarter. I think we played well until the last quarter and had a few misses before conceding goals in the final quarter.”

He added, “Against Germany, too, we came up with an overall performance. From being one down, we got back into the game with really good goals by Mandeep [Singh] and Sardar [Singh]. The second goal we conceded against Germany was unfortunate. Surender, while defending, got a deflection and it went into the goal. If not, we had that game [won].”

Sloppy defence

That brings defence into the frame as well. It did appreciably in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, where shoddy finishing was the culprit on most occasions. But it seems the defensive wall is still trying to get over VR Raghunath’s absence.

Surender (53 caps), Pardeep Mor (39 caps) and Harmanpreet (34 caps) are only growing as defenders on the senior international turf, and such tours will help them identify their mistakes and limitations.

India will have Netherlands as their biggest rival in Pool B at the HWL semis in London, where they will also face Canada and Scotland in the group stage – besides the big one against Pakistan on June 18.

India’s only win in Dusseldorf came against Belgium, where two goals from dragflicker Harmanpreet led their 3-2 win, which also puts their dependence on penalty corners in perspective.

Manpreet played around that question. “We know the areas where we made mistakes in this tournament and over the next one week, we will work on it before we start our first match in London,” he said. “I am very optimistic we will do well.”

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

When did we start parenting our parents?

As our parents grow older, our ‘adulting’ skills are tested like never before.

From answering every homework question to killing every monster under the bed, from soothing every wound with care to crushing anxiety by just the sound of their voice - parents understandably seemed like invincible, know-it-all superheroes all our childhood. It’s no wonder then that reality hits all of a sudden, the first time a parent falls and suffers a slip disc, or wears a thick pair of spectacles to read a restaurant menu - our parents are growing old, and older. It’s a slow process as our parents turn from superheroes to...human.

And just as slow to evolve are the dynamics of our relationship with them. Once upon a time, a peck on the cheek was a frequent ritual. As were handmade birthday cards every year from the artistically inclined, or declaring parents as ‘My Hero’ in school essays. Every parent-child duo could boast of an affectionate ritual - movie nights, cooking Sundays, reading favourite books together etc. The changed dynamic is indeed the most visible in the way we express our affection.

The affection is now expressed in more mature, more subtle ways - ways that mimics that of our own parents’ a lot. When did we start parenting our parents? Was it the first time we offered to foot the electricity bill, or drove them to the doctor, or dragged them along on a much-needed morning walk? Little did we know those innocent acts were but a start of a gradual role reversal.

In adulthood, children’s affection for their parents takes on a sense of responsibility. It includes everything from teaching them how to use smartphones effectively and contributing to family finances to tracking doctor’s appointments and ensuring medicine compliance. Worry and concern, though evidence of love, tend to largely replace old-fashioned patterns of affection between parents and children as the latter grow up.

It’s something that can be easily rectified, though. Start at the simplest - the old-fashioned peck on the cheek. When was the last time you gave your mom or dad a peck on the cheek like a spontaneous five-year-old - for no reason at all? Young parents can take their own children’s behaviour available as inspiration.

As young parents come to understand the responsibilities associated with caring for their parents, they also come to realise that they wouldn’t want their children to go through the same challenges. Creating a safe and secure environment for your family can help you strike a balance between the loving child in you and the caring, responsible adult that you are. A good life insurance plan can help families deal with unforeseen health crises by providing protection against financial loss. Having assurance of a measure of financial security for family can help ease financial tensions considerably, leaving you to focus on being a caring, affectionate child. Moreover,you can eliminate some of the worry for your children when they grow up – as the video below shows.

Play

To learn more about life insurance plans available for your family, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of SBI Life and not by the Scroll editorial team.