New Delhi: The Fiji war dance did nothing more than entertaining the meagre crowd at the Major Dhyan Chand Stadium on Monday as India pumped 16 goals against the 70th-ranked team. Something on similar lines can be expected when the hosts take on Oman, ranked 36th, in their second match of the FIH Hockey World League on Wednesday.
Fresh from a day's rest, the untested Indians will once again look to allow youngsters like Malak Singh, Mandeep Singh and Gurjinder Singh to get used to the international arena before slightly tougher assignments against Ireland and China. But what coach Michael Nobbs and captain Sardar Singh would not want is the intensity to drop.
Two hat-tricks - by vice captain VR Raghunath and Danish Mujtaba - starred in India's walk in the park against Fiji, where 10 players got themselves on the scoresheet. While Malak and Gurjinder scored on debut and were rewarded with a cash prize of Rs. 1 lakh each on Monday, Mandeep was unlucky to not have a goal against his name. But the Ranchi Rhinos' leading scorer is sure to get another opportunity against Oman, which he will like to make the most of.
Drag-flickers Raghunath and Rupinder Pal Singh, who scored twice, were in terrific form on the penalty-corners, with India converting six out of the eight they earned. The other ten strikes were field goals, which must have brought a smile on Nobbs' face. But the coach made it clear that he is no mood to relax for a tournament that holds the key to India's participation in the next year's World Cup.
"It is a qualifying tournament for the World Cup. We can't relax against any team," he said. Apart from the winners from the men's round-robin competition, three highest-ranked second-placed teams from the four Round 2 events also progress to the next round, but India would not want to leave it to that.
Nobbs was pretty sure about his team not letting the foot off the accelerator against the minnows, before the competitive games against the Irish and the Chinese. "We are not complacent and are focused to take the winning momentum into the tough matches against China and Ireland," Nobbs said.
Oman, though, gave a decent account of themselves in the first game against China, even though went down 4-0. They would like to not concede as many goals as Fiji did against India. That must be their immediate target in match where the odds are heavily stacked against them.
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