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India faces a tough customer in Dutch (6/30/2018)
--s2h team
Both India and Dutch are in dire need of good show today at Breda. For India a draw against the host will see them through to the second successive Champions Trophy final whereas the hosts who had a roller coaster ride hitherto at home, need an outright win to obtain the same objective.


Considering the high stakes at hand, today's last encounter between them is expected to be an edge of the seat affair.

Having won two games and drew and lost one apiece, India has seven points and is sitting at second behind Australia. Australia's encounter today against off-form Argentina at sixth in the table, is inconsequential insofar as medal race is considered.

India did not keep up its pace and rhythm which it showcased in the beginning. Its defence is holding on, with ever reliable goalie and captain PR Sreejesh excelling all expectations.

India's forwardline of late is cause of worry. The goals that Mandeep Singh miss out in open situations can burn any connoisseur's heart.


Further worry for India is its lack of precision in penalty corner conversions. The fact that it could convert only three out of 19 penalty corners, speak for itself.

At the same time, its PC defence so far has been fairly good, but to think that the team has conceded as many as 25, six more than what it gained in four matches is a matter of concern. The credit for not losing the plot goes to first chargers and the last defence in the form of a man in Sreejesh.

As regards the Dutch, they started rather badly before pulling socks up.

India and Dutch do not meet often unlike other rivals in Breda.

After London Olympics, India played just 10 matches against the Netherlands, including three at home.

Both teams played a two-match test series in August last year. They have not met since then, which is almost a year, a big gap in international hockey. Therefore, both teams will lack first hand mutual experience barring the four matches they played in Breda.

Last August, India won both the tests at 4-3 and 2-1 scorelines. However, the Dutch has been a different stuff when mattered. It put Indian challenge aside in the last two Olympics. This is what one has to remember.

And of course, India used to exert all it could against the free flowing rivals. One cannot just forget the 5-5 score in the Hockey World League Final in Raipur three summers ago. India came out clean in the shoot out thanks again to Sreejesh who stopped twice in the shoot out.


Ramandeep Singh was the hero at Raipur then with two immaculate strikes after conceding good lead to the Dutch. That the sharp shooter had to return home on account of injury is matter of concern for today's India. Without Ramandeep Singh, the task doubles up for the visitors.

Whether the Indian forwardline consisting of SV Sunil, Mandeep Singh, Dilpreet Singh and Lalit Updhyay will deliver.

Here lies the gold or bronze question for India.

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