India play Ireland in pursuit of first win
London: A golden opportunity to claim an upset win lost, the Indian women's hockey team would be aiming to make amends when it takes on a lower-ranked Ireland in its second game of the World Cup, here on Thursday.
India had a bright chance to score an upset win against world no.2 England in their Pool B opener on June 21 but settled for a 1-1 draw.
The Indians only had themselves to blame as despite leading the English girls for 54 minutes, they conceded a late goal to share the points.
World n0. 10 India will fancy their chances against world no. 16 Ireland, but it would be a serious mistake by the Sjoerd Marijne-coached side if they take the Irish lightly.
By virtue of their stunning 3-1 stunning over world no. 7 USA, the lowest ranked side in the group, Ireland are currently leading Pool B just ahead of England and India.
And a win on Thursday would secure Ireland's place in the knock-out stage of the tournament.
The Indians, on the other hand, would be desperate to score their first win in the tournament on Thursday.
But it would be easier said than done as they will be up against an Irish side which has the capability of springing surprises.
India lost 1-2 to Ireland in the HWL Semifinals in Johannesburg last year and revenge would be high on the Rani Rampal-led side's agenda when it takes the turf on Thursday.
The Indian coaching staff and senior players like goalkeeper Savita feel that defeat was history and they have the firepower to beat Ireland.
"We have done well against Ireland in practice matches in the past," she said.
"In the match last year, we were leading and should have won for sure but conceding two penalty corners one after another proved costly. We have a strong defence and play an attacking brand of hockey -- this is a potent combination and makes us strong as a side," she asserted.
But the Indians will have to lift their game by few notches for that to happen. Against England, they failed to earn a single penalty corner, leaving dragflicker Gurjit Kaur frustrated.
However, goalkeeper Savita was brilliant under the bar to deny England on numerous occasion.
The Indians did create more chances from open play against England and that counted as a positive for chief coach Marijne going into Thursday's game.
A win on Thursday will take India to the top of the pool and brighten its knock-out chances ahead of its last fixture against USA on July 29.
In the other match of the day, Spain will take on South Africa in Pool C.