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HWL2015: SF2: Erratic India let themselves down (12/6/2015)
--K. Arumugam
Honestly speaking, losing to Belgium by a solitary goal can neither be said unexpected nor categorized as upset. If it now appears so for large section of Indians it was because of huge attitude change we witnessed with India on the thunderous Thursday, against the British in the quarters. undefined

India, in sync with its history, proved 48 hours that separated Thursday and Saturday is too long. We have seen two different Indian sides in the spell. In the former, it attacked from the word go. But on Saturday, where everything was at stake including a slice of history, India waited and wasted full 30 minutes before it felt the need to tune up its mind -- to go for attack.

India thus failed to plug the wonted inconsistency. However, credit to this Indian side that it kept the chances of even out the scoreline alive till the last seconds.

Like most of the Europeans in the 90s, Belgium struck a goal and could protect it for the next 55 minutes. The hockey thus was extremely boring, eventless, monotonous backpasses were repeated to a irritating regularity. This kind of hockey is enemy of this sport, and every rule was changed to change the trend but this brand won the day today. Australians demolished this brand at The Hague last year, but India could not.

It was not that the Red Lions did some thing extraordinary on Saturday to the semis of this year’s most prestigious of FIH event, the HWL Finals. In turn, they did simple things perfectly, as a couple of other European powers are adept at it. The match in that respect looked like irritating 90s hockey where the spectators had nothing to cherish.

It was patience at its best from the Belgians. After an opportunistic early goal that went between the legs of Indian goalie, they were content in keeping ball possession with precise distribution often in the back of the court.

Eleven Belgium players had 100+ caps, two more than India's. 31 caps were the least experienced while its 6 for India. The more experienced side Belgium really showed maturity on the turf yesterday.

India totally fell into their trap. They imitated. They also indulged in backpasses but without the kind of precision the neopowers had.

India's erratic first half was followed by panic second half. Both did not help make history which was at stake.

Indian often came under their own pressure due to unforced errors – often blind passes.

India lost the plot in the first half. It played to the plot of Red Lions.

When it realized the futility of doing the same things that their rivals do, India was let down by its own erratic ball distribution and panic efforts even failing at trapping and the off ball running.

Under pressure nothing worked for the Indians. Players were here and there, losing positional play. It was pathetic to see players of such calibre as Sardar Singh and Brendra Lakra were so shaky that at crucial times their ball sense was pedestrian.

Some of Sardsar Singh’s passes, which used to be his hallmarks and game changers, were so unimaginative and uncontrolled today that these spoilt the game’s rhythm, and the Indian initiatives turned out to be rival’s Belgium’s.

Unlike the contest against the British, India did not put its young blood in the first eleven, instead the old ones. They failed to measure up.

Did India play under pressure?

Yes. Otherwise it would not have had problem in simple area of passing and trapping. India did not do simple things the simple way, but complicated with wayward approach. But their rivals, despite having a new coach on board, playing against full throat crowd, kept their cool and did simple things the way it should, and walked away with honours.

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