India tour of Sri Lanka, 2017

India aim to continue winning run in HWL semis

In the absence of star drag-flicker Rupinderpal Singh, the onus will be on Kothajit Singh and Harmanpreet Singh to hold the fort in the backline ahead of important clashes against Pakistan and Netherlands.
Harmanpreet Singh of India celebrates his goal... Source: GETTY IMAGES
PTI London 16 Jun 2017, 04:02 PM IST

Their campaign off to a positive start, an ever-improving India would look to continue their winning momentum when they take on another easy opponent in Canada in their second Pool B match of the Hockey World League Semi-Final here tomorrow.

For the sixth-ranked India, tomorrow's match would provide them with another golden opportunity to enhance their position in Pool B with their second consecutive win ahead of tough games against arch-rivals Pakistan and fourth-ranked Netherlands.

Just like their opening counter, the Indians are considered as hands down favourites against 11th-ranked Canada, who have some Indian origin players in the squad.

But Roelant Oltmans' men will have to guard against complacency as a lowly Scotland gave India a run for their money at least in the opening two quarters.

In their tournament opener, the Indians were slow to get off the blocks and an opportunist Scotland utilised it to their advantage to take an early lead which they held on till half time.

But after dressing down from coach Oltmans at the half way stage, the Indians looked more organised and purposeful in the third and fourth quarter and completely dominated the proceedings to take control of the match.

The Indians scored as many as four goals in the third quarter through striker Ramandeep Singh's double strike, Akashdeep Singh and HarManpreet Singh to pocket full three points from the encounter.

But come tomorrow, the Indians cannot afford to relax a bit from the onset as they did against Scotland the other day.

A win tomorrow will more or less assure India's place in the quarterfinals.

Against Scotland, the Indian defence was caught napping at least in the initial stages and Oltmans will be fully aware of the fact especially in the absence of Rupinderpal Singh, who was ruled out of the tournament at the last minute due to a hamstring injury.

The onus would be on Kothajit Singh and Harmanpreet Singh to hold the fort in the backline ahead of important clashes against Pakistan and Netherlands.

The midfield led by talismanic Sardar Singh and skipper Manpreet looked in great shape while the forward line too impressed in the opening match.

Canada, on the other hand, will be playing their first match of the tournament and will be going all guns blazing to upset the Indians.

Canada have nothing to lose and they would be hoping to capitalise on India's lapses to shock their rival early.

Meanwhile, in the other Pool B match of the day, Netherlands will play Scotland while in Pool A Korea will face China and hosts England will take on Malaysia.

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