From now on it's a do or die situation for India. After missing a host of chances in the first two matches, it is time to score as much as possible and pray that the god of fortune smiles on them and the other results emerge in their favour as they take on New Zealand in their penultimate league encounter.
If every thing gies according to India's plans, the final match of the league against Malaysia will be a virtual semifinal, with the winner going into the final. Now India are up against the reigning champions Black Sticks, who are ahead of them in the table with a one goal advantage as both teams have three points.
Both India and New Zealand are coming off from their first victories of the tournament on Tuesday. India defeated Pakistan 3-1, while New Zealand defeated South Korea 3-0. Such is the thin differentiation between the teams that Pakistan had defeated New Zealand and South Korea had defeated India.
The onus will be on the Indians as they have been playing well as a team and for the first time they will not be outdone by the fitness of the Kiwis. It is the Indians' ability to finish off the chances that will decide the outcome of the match. Against Pakistan too they created numerous chances, but lack of Indians' presence in the back of the goal proved costly. All the Indian strikers were seen in the front of the goal and this may well have been sorted out by Michael Nobbs.
The defence and mid-field has been working out in tandem and have been of good support to custodian Sreejesh. Now it's crunch time and will be interesting to see how the youngsters respond to it.
What are India's chances?
When it mattered the most, the Indians stepped up their game and stayed alive with the victory against Pakistan. Now the Indians are in contention for the final and need to win both their matches, but their survival will also depend more on the performances of the other teams too.
In the table, Australia and Malaysia share the top-two spots with seven points each and the Tuesday’s result where Australia were held by Malaysia has done more damage to India’s chances. India has to win both of its matches, while both Australia and Malaysia need one victory to seal their final berth.
While Australia, who are up against South Korea and New Zealand, are favourties to enter final India’s hopes rest on Malaysia’s failure. Malaysia will play Pakistan on Thursday, if they lose then their final encounter against India will be a virtual semifinal, if India win against New Zealand on Thursday.
Meanwhile, India will also have to keep an eye on goal difference too. Currently, with all four teams at three points, New Zealand lead India by one goal. Along with India both Korea and Pakistan too have a chance of entering by winning both matches and then it is the goal difference that will come into play.
There are too much permutations and combinations and here we have presumed that Australia will qualify. So instead of worrying too much about mathematics it’s better if India concentrate on performing well and allow the rest to the fate, which is not in their hands.