Hockey World League: Inconsistent India falter against Belgium in semis
Raipur: Inconsistency continued to haunt India as they conceded an early goal to lose 0-1 to Belgium and crash out of the title race of the Hockey World League Final here on Saturday.
India's Sunil Sowmarpet (second from left) appeals during the match against Belgium. Pic/Getty Images
India conceded a soft goal in the fifth minute of the second semi-final encounter when Cedric Charlier scored from a field strike for Belgium, which eventually separated both the teams at the Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel stadium.
Belgium now take on Australia in the summit clash today while India play the Netherlands for the bronze medal in an earlier match in the day. The Indians were slow to get off the blocks as they hardly troubled the Belgian defence in the first two quarters.
But the hosts came out with more purpose after the change of ends to create numerous scoring opportunities but their forwardline failed to finish off the moves.
After failing to register a single shot at the opposition goal in the first 30 minutes, India managed 11 tries in the last two quarters but failed to convert those into goals.
The Indians also enjoyed 59 per cent possession in the match as against their rivals' 41, while the hosts made 24 circle penetrations compared to Belgium's 16. Interestingly, both the teams failed to secure a single penalty corner in the entire match.
But things did not look good for India even before the resumption of the match as goalkeeper PR Sreejesh hurt himself above the knee in the warm-up session and did not take part in the mandatory national anthem ceremony, drawing fears that he might not start in the first eleven.
However, he recovered in time and took the field. As India's coach Roelant Oltmans said after their quarter-final duel, he could not guarantee a consistent performance.