Former India goalkeeper Ashish Ballal is of the opinion that the Indians lost the quarter-final game against Netherlands at the ongoing World Cup because of the poor show by the forwards. He also added that the umpiring in the game was debatable on a few occasions which also went against the hosts.
Despite scoring the first goal of the game through Akashdeep Singh in the 12th minute of the match, India went down to the Netherlands by a score of 1-2 in the last quarter-final match of the Men’s Hockey World Cup in Bhubaneswar. The Netherlands will now play Australia in their semi-final game while the Manpreet Singh-led team will have to remain satisfied only with the quarter-finals. The Indians had many opportunities in the first half but some lapses by the forward line players affected their performance and the Indians were not up to the mark in spite of getting an early lead in the first quarter.
Speaking to SportsCafe, former India goalkeeper Ballal said, “There were quite a few reasons why the Indian team lost. Our forward line was totally off colour and there was a pale shadow. Akashdeep, Mandeep and all of them were totally off colour. There
“The defence was commendable, Surrender’s performance was outstanding yesterday and even Manpreet and the midfield held up well. I was a little disappointed with the way Sumeet and Varun played. They were outstanding in the rest of the matches but in the quarters they didn’t have the best outing.”
The hosts had as many as 13 circle entries in the game, however, they could create only a couple of penalty corners out of which none were converted. Ballal underlined the fact that there was a stark contrast between the playing style of the Indian forwards from the previous three games of the tournament.
“India’s strength in the first three matches was that they used a lot of skills inside the circle but yesterday where was the skill or the application of mind inside the circle? There was no application of mind by the Indians. Penalty corners or a try at the goal - India lacked in these aspects yesterday,” explained Ballal.
India had to play with only 10 players on the turf in the last seven minutes of the game as local lad Amit Rohidas was sent off the mat because of a rash tackle in the 53rd minute. However, many questions were raised on the decision by the umpire and even the Indian coach Harendra Singh came to speak out against the quality of umpiring during the post-match press conference.
Speaking about the decision Ballal said, “Yellow card in the last 10 minutes of the match is very harsh and unwarranted and I feel the umpire was little biased on that occasion. At that stage of the match, sending a person for 10 minutes, it could have been a five-minute suspension. The gravity of error was not as much that it deserved a 10-minute suspension. There were a lot of instances where the umpiring was debatable. The Indians played to their potential and I think they were overawed with the situation.”
That was not the only error Rohidas committed in the game, three minutes before getting the yellow card, the defender’s over-anxiety cost India a goal. Rohidas came out of the line earlier during a penalty corner in the 50th minute which resulted in him being sent out of the rushing duties and the opposition got another short corner. PR Sreejesh had to save the goal with a defender less and the senior goalie failed to do that with only three men with him.
“I think Amit had a good run as the first and second rusher. Sending him at that crucial time definitely had an impact. It was pretty unfortunate that Sreejesh couldn’t save that. He was not up to the mark there as well,” said the Arjuna Award winner.
Speaking about Sreejesh’s performance, the former goalie added, “In the whole game, the Dutch had only one or two chances. Sreejesh was not called up that he had to make five to six saves. Only two or three chances those were there for them and we conceded two goals from that.”
Ballal, who was at the Kalinga Stadium and watched the game live from the stands, asserted that the crowd support was fantastic in Bhubaneswar but he also wanted the fans to cheer the Indian team even when the ball was not in possession with the Indians during the match.
“The crowd has been spectacular but they have been a bit confused. They were not cheering up the team when it was down. Only when the ball was with the Indians they cheered yesterday. We would like to see the crowd cheering harder when the team is down to lift them up. Having a big crowd is good but having a crowd which keeps the side motivated throughout the match is also important,” said Ballal, who played a crucial role in the Bangkok Asian Games victory back in 1998.
When asked about Harendra Singh and the current Indian team with a lot of young boys doing well in the blue jersey, Ballal replied, “I think this Indian side is a very young team and we should keep pursuing with this. We have to continue what we are doing and the team will only get better. The margin of error when you play the top teams is very little and you know you will be punished severely for one or two mistakes. That’s what champion teams do to you, the top teams give you very few chances. When you are playing top teams you get one or two chances and it is better to put the ball in.”
Cricket FootBall Kabaddi
Cricket FootBall Kabaddi