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India routed again
July 01, 2004 22:43 IST
Germany's Bjorn Michel scored a hat-trick as India crashed to their third successive defeat in the four-nation Rabobank hockey tournament in Amsterdam on Thursday.
Michel's goals in a 10-minute blitzkrieg helped his side emerge 4-0 winners and win a place in the final against Holland on Sunday.
India will now play for the third-fourth places against arch-rivals Pakistan, who take on Holland in the final league match later today.
Even a win may not help Pakistan since they lost the league match to Germany.
After managing to put up a fight in the first-half, during which they conceded a goal scored by Christopher Bechmann, the Indians hardly offered any resistance after the break as Michel went berserk converting three penalty-corners.
This was India's third defeat in a row following their 0-2 defeat to Holland and 1-6 humiliation by Pakistan.
India rested veteran strikers Dhanraj Pillay and Baljit Singh Dhillon, who both failed to impress in the first two games, but the move failed to yield any positives as rookies Hari Prasad, Inderjit Singh and Sunil Yadav failed to trouble the German defenders.
Even their famed forwards -- Gagan Ajit Singh and Prabhjot Singh -- failed to do anything noteworthy to stem the rot.
India, who played some organised hockey in the first-half, came close to opening their account as early as in the seventh minute but Gagan missed a sitter much to the disgust of his teammates. He took a long time to take a shot after getting a perfect cross from captain Dilip Tirkey from inside the Indian half.
In the absence of Pillay and Dhillon, coach Rajinder Singh made full use of the rolling substitutions in the first half in a desperate attempt to score a goal.
Even though the Indians were pressing hard for a goal, it was Germany who took the lead in the 14th minute when a good move through the right flank ended with a searing hit by Bechmann that beat goalkeeper Devesh Chauhan all ends up.
India were lucky not to concede anymore goals before the end of the first half despite Germany getting three penalty-corners including one a few seconds before the half-time hooter.
Captain Florian Kunz hit wide twice while the third was smartly palmed away by Chauhan.
The second half saw a dramatic change in the script as the Germans increased their pace, making several forays into the Indian circle and testing the defence.
India managed to thwart the rival forwards till nine minutes into the half but three penalty-corners in quick succession completely changed the complexion of the game.
First Michel scored with an impressive variation employed by the Germans in the 44th minute and followed it up with two powerfully executed drag-flicks in the 52nd and 54th minutes to tilt the scale in favour of the Europeans.
The triple strike made India, who had made some good moves early on, struggle for ball possession and they gave away positional advantage to their opponents every now and then.