High on confidence, the Indian men’s hockey team will have to step up their game against 6th ranked New Zealand in the second semifinal of the men’s hockey competition at the National Hockey Center in Glasgow.
The 9th ranked Indians, who shrugged off their insipid 3-1 win over Wales in the tournament, gradually hit the straps clubbing Scotland 6-2 before raising the game by several notches against the world champions Australia, before losing to them 2-4. The Terry Walsh-coached side then swamped South Africa 5-2 to reach the semifinals in style.
India must look to avoid conceding penalty corners as the Black Sticks have a potent force in drag-flicker Andy Hayward, who has among the goals in the tournament. They will have to watch out for the New Zealand fowardline, who boasts of vastly experienced Phil Burrows, talented Simon Child and Hugo Inglis and create severe damage if allowed any leeway.
In the absence of suspended regular skipper Sardar Singh, India will bank a lot of the likes of Rupinder, Raghunath, Gurbaj and Manpreet to lent solidity in defence and midfield. The likes of Chandi, Sunil, Dharamvir along with youngsters like Akashdeep, Ramandeep and Nikkin will seek to dish out another robust performance.
India have played New Zealand twice in Commonwealth Games – they won 3-1 in the 1998 edition and lost 1-2 Dismiss in the 2006 edition. India’s last win over New Zealand was a 4-2 triumph in the 2012 Champions Trophy. However, India lost the last both teams played in the Hockey World League Final Round in Delhi – India lost 1-3.