Amit Rohidas and Hardik Singh scored for the hosts in the FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup 2023 opener.

India started the 2023 FIH men’s hockey World Cup on a bright note defeating Spain 2-0 at the Birsa Munda International hockey stadium. The Men in Blue played well as a unit in both the attack and defence section and started the World Cup on a positive note. Hardik Singh and local boy Amit Rohidas were the goalscorers, scoring in the first two-quarters of the first half. Spain, with a young team, found it hard to adapt with crowd pressure mounting on the visitors.

In this article let us discuss a few talking points from the match.

Should PR Sreejesh be playing in the even quarters?

PR Sreejesh is playing his fourth World Cup and third in India. He is considered the wall and the crisis man in front of the goalpost for India having played for 16 long years. The 34-year-old played in the first and third quarters against Spain, with Pathak taking over the second and fourth quarters for India.

The final quarter is the crucial phase of the match and with Sreejesh’s experience, the custodian can control play in the back. He made a crucial save against Germany (bronze medal match) in the dying seconds at Tokyo Olympics and has been in such a situation on several occasions.

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Hardik Singh’s consistency in the midfield

Hardik Singh was the standout performer in midfield and was involved in both goals that India scored. He played a long ball to Samsher Singh which later turned into a penalty corner. The midfielder took the onus upon himself and rolled the ball 40m from the half-line and scored a goal.

Hardik has been a silent warrior for India playing well both in attack and defence. The dependable midfielder Manpreet Singh combined with Hardik Singh in midfield giving crucial passes.

Defence hunting in pair

After a run of nine matches (since the start of the 2022-23 pro league), India finally managed to keep a clean-sheet. The defence played well as a unit hunting in pairs. Spain’s attack couldn’t get through the defence with two or more Indian players attacking them on a consistent basis. The strategy worked out in India’s favour as Spain did not possess any alternate plan to attack and score.

Amit Rohidas presence of mind

Amit Rohidas opened India’s scoring account through a rebound from a penalty corner. He had to just place the ball as Spanish defenders failed to attack the rebound. Apart from scoring, the local lad was also responsible for setting up the second penalty corner blindsiding the defender.

Krishan Pathak’s brilliant saves

As mentioned by the commentator, Pathak had done his homework pretty well saving two penalty corners from Cunill whose preferred side is to the goalkeeper’s right. Pathak pre-meditated Cunill’s move and stayed entirely on the right side of the goalpost. So the Indian goalkeeper just had to just deflect the ball outside.

Lack of finishing skills 

India should have scored more goals and built momentum going into the next stage. After scoring two goals in the first half, the attack lacked finishing skills which might prop up as a problem against higher-ranked and quality opposition. Spain possessed very few experienced players which went in India’s favour. Otherwise, it could have comeback to bite them back. 

India could only score one goal from six penalty corners with captain Harmanpreet Singh missing a penalty as well. Harmanpreet Singh did not try many variations attacking the same side of goal post which made Spain’s job easy at defence. Apart from Harmanpreet Singh, there aren’t any proven drag-flicker which has been a concern in the past year.  

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