Dominant yet vanquished, a tale of India's missed chances against Kiwis

Consider this. India had 32 circle penetrations as against New Ze­aland’s 14; nine penalty corn­ers to four. Yet, when the hooter so­unded, Indians stood vanqu­i­s­h­ed.

Published: 14th April 2018 01:54 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th April 2018 07:26 AM   |  A+A-

Hugo Inglis of New Zealand (2nd L) celebrates with teammate Aidan Sarikaya after scoring against India during their men's field hockey semi-final match of the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games at the Gold Coast Hockey Centre on the Gold Coast on April 13

Express News Service

GOLD COAST: If match statistics could win matches, India would have been undisputed kings against New Zealand on Friday. They kept marauding the rival territory in wa­v­es, kept egging for goals but in the end lost 2-3 in the first semifinal on a balmy evening here.

Consider this. India had 32 circle penetrations as against New Ze­aland’s 14; nine penalty corn­ers to four. Yet, when the hooter so­unded, Indians stood vanqu­i­s­h­ed.

The first period was sprink­l­ed with errors that led to easy go­als — something that has been do­gging India for a while. Even the coach, Sjoerd Marijne, was peeved at the fragile defence.

Hugo Inglis scored the first and then Stephen Jenesse made it 2-0 for New Zealand. India kept chasing the game. Harmanpreet scored two but India could not conjure a miracle.

Marijne was livid. “If you see the match again, we should have won in the first five or six minu­t­es,” he said. “We got opportunit­i­es, we got PCs. I think the story so far is that we ha­ve enough PCs, we create enough chances but we don’t score. That’s it. The game’s about scoring and we don’t do that enough.”

In the final two quarters, India were a transformed team. They played higher and kept attacking in waves. The Dutch coach agreed it was rather psychological that India could not make a comeback.

“Yeah (thinks a lot)... it’s important to see the reality of it all. In the last five months we hadn’t created so many chances as now. That’s going well. I am happy with that. But we have taken a step back when it comes to giving opponents easy opportunities to score against us. Sometimes you take a step back to make two forward. That’s what I believe in. This is the first time that I have seen so many defensive errors. The team is very disappointed.”

India, however, can have a consolation bronze for which they ha­ve to fight against England. Bu­t these matches are tricky because when you aim for gold, ot­h­er medals don’t matter. Marijne ha­s taken some positives too. Th­ere have been traces of improvement.

Things have been more co­h­esive as the Games approached an­d against New Zealand, a favo­urable result was within reach.

Looking forward to other challenges this season, Marijne said, “We improved as a team every ma­tch. I was especially happy wi­th our performance against England. We did struggle a bit but it’s also important to keep winning even when you struggle and we did that. The problem in this tournament was we gave away many cheap goals. Players will have to learn from this.”

Results: Men’s semifinals: India lost to New Zealand 2-3, Australia bt England 2-1.

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