The India hockey team is slowly but surely getting to terms with new coach Paul van Ass' style of play, as they put up an impressive performance against Poland in the Hockey World League Semifinal at Brasschaat Municipal Park on Tuesday. India won the game convincingly with the score reading 3-0.
This was a much-improved performance from India after they looked less impressive in their opener against France, which they won 3-2.
India dominated Poland right from the start and they could have scored more had the Polish goalie not been in top form. He came up with some good saves. With goals in regular intervals, though, the Indian team did not allow Poland to come back into game.
India made a number of penetrations down the middle against the Polish defenders, which proved to be the game-breaker.
After some good pressing from India, the team in blue took the lead via Yuvraj Walmiki, who struck in the 23rd minute. Just two minutes prior to India's goal, goalkeeper PR Sreejesh had come up with a brilliant save to keep the Polish drag flicker Pawel Bratkowski out. Things might have been different had that shot gone in.
But, the Indian forwards could have scored much earlier for they got their chances in front of goal, but failed to convert.
India's skipper, Sardar Singh, who played a key role as India's playmaker, struck a nice goal in the 42nd minute, which sealed the game for India at 2-0. Any hopes of a miracle comeback for Poland came to an end after Devinder Walmiki scored an outstanding goal in the 52nd minute, which also caught the Polish goalie by surprise.
When the hooter blew one last time, it was the Indian team who were all smiles as they were seen talking selfies as part of the celebrations. Sardar Singh was satisfied with India's performance.
"We played very well in the match and we are satisfied with our performance against Poland. They are a good team and playing against them was a challenge for us. But we have improved our game from the previous match and we are quite happy with the result," Hockey India official website quoted Sardar Singh as saying.
Despite their improved performance, there is plenty of room for improvement as they prepare to face the likes of Pakistan and Australia. India play Pakistan on Friday, and the game is expected to be a huge one, as it always is when the two sides meet.
"We are focussing on our strategies match by match and the next match against Pakistan will be special. We are getting ready for the clash," added Sardar Singh.