Hockey World League: India face uphill task against world champions Australia in quarterfinal

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The┬ámorale-boosting draw against Olympic champions Germany┬áhas done a world of good to India’s confidence as the hosts face a herculean task when they square off with World Champions Australia in the quarterfinals of the Hero Hockey World League Final, in New Delhi on Wednesday.

After back-to-back defeats against higher-ranked England and New Zealand in their opening two Pool A games, a struggling Indian side gave the home fans something to cheer about and dished out a spirited performance to hold world number one Germany to a 3-3 draw at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium on Monday.

If India’s opening two outings were horrible in terms of performance, they came up with much-improved performance in their last pool match to hold the mighty Germans.

Unlike their previous two games, Indians looked far more organised and co-ordinated in both attack and defence against Germany. Sardar and Co. were the better side on display throughout the match. Had it not been for a late defensive lapse from skipper Sardar, India could have stunned Germany.

The Indian midfield and the forward line combined well to create a number of opportunities, which were missing in the first two games against England and New Zealand. The defence, which is India’s perennial problem, too lived upto the expectations to deny Germany any major inroads.

On Wednesday, India will be hoping for a repeat performance, if not better, to give themselves a chance against Australia, coached by legendary Ric Charlesworth. Inspite of having three specialist dragflickers in the team in VR Raghunath, Rupinderpal Singh and Amit Rohitdas, India have not been upto the mark with penalty corner conversions so far in the eight-nation event which might be an area of concern for coach Terry Walsh….

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