File photo of Indian hockey team.© Hockey India
Indian men's hockey team will be aiming to improve its penalty corner conversion rate when it squares off with lowly Singapore in a second pool A match of the Asian Games on Tuesday. Firm favourites India blanked lowly Uzbekistan 16-0 in their tournament opener on Sunday but the Harmanpreet Singh-led side knows that there is room for improvement. Especially, when it comes to penalty corners, Indian team has fluffed their chances despite possessing a potent bunch of drag-flickers. In skipper Harmanpreet, who was rested in the opening match, Varun Kumar, Amit Rohidas and Sanjay comprise a potent force in penalty corner force.
But despite that India converted just five out of the 14 penalty corners they earned in the match against Uzbekistan and it would be a matter of concern for chief coach Craig Fulton going into the game against Singapore.
The good thing is that Harmanpreet will play Tuesday's match and going by his reputation, the onus would be on him to take the responsibility in the penalty corner division.
But the good part of India's performance against Uzbekistan is their display in the forward-line as out of the 16 goals, 10 came of field play.
Lalit Upadhyay shone bright in the forward-line scoring four fine goals, while Mandeep Singh was a livewire, finding the net thrice and also setting up a few assists for his teammates.
The midfield, led by Manpreet Singh, vice-captain Hardik Singh and Vivek Sagar Prasad, would look to continue its steady performance.
But Fulton would be wary about the fact that the Indian defence has hardly been tested against Uzbekistan as goalkeepers PR Sreejesh and Krishan Bahadur Pathak stood as mere spectators in the entire 60 minutes and did not have to make a single save.
Ranked third in the world, India are the top team in tournament while Singapore are placed 49th and Fulton's boys are expected to have it easy and register their second consecutive win.
Singapore's morale would be low after suffering a 0-11 thrashing at the hands of Pakistan in their opening match, and it doesn't augur well for them as India hammered them 15-1 in their last outing way back in 2012.
The Indians would be looking to keep their confidence high and carry on the winning momentum ahead of two tough pool matches against title holders Japan on September September 28 and arch-rivals Pakistan on September 30 before wrapping up the campaign against Bangladesh on October 2.
India's chief coach Fulton, known for his tactical brilliance, said the need of the hour to win the Asian Games is continuity in performance.
"Our focus is always on the next game. While our opening win was impressive, we are committed to maintaining our performance levels and fine-tuning our strategies. Every match is an opportunity to learn and grow as a team," he said.
Skipper Harmanpreet too expects the team to maintain the momentum.
"We started the tournament on a high note, but we know that each match presents a unique challenge. We are here to compete, give our best, and make our nation proud,' he said.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
Topics mentioned in this article