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India eye win over NZ to keep hopes alive in hockey

July 31, 2012 17:25 IST

Their Olympic campaign off to a losing start, erstwhile champions India would be desperate to return to winning ways against an unpredictable New Zealand in their second Group B match of the men's hockey competition on Wednesday.

-London Olympics 2012 - Full coverage

The Indians will be under tremendous pressure to produce a good result against New Zealand to remain in contention for a place in the next round.

Michael NobbsBut it won't be easy as in New Zealand the Indian will be facing a side against whom they lost 1-5 just months ago. And going into the match the humiliating defeat is bound to be fresh in the memory of the Indian players.

Returning to the Olympics after a gap of eight years, eight-time champions, India lost 2-3 to The Netherlands on Monday in their opening encounter of the London Games, which has left them shaky and confused.

Against the Dutch, the Indian players, all but two of them making their maiden Olympic appearance, seemed tentative and jittery.

But if they wish to bring smiles back on the faces of Indian hockey fans, Michael Nobbs' boys have no other option but to get their acts together against the Black Sticks.

The Indians seemed to be content to defend in the entire first half against The Netherlands, and played their natural game only after the change of ends.

Expectedly, India's chief coach Michael Nobbs was baffled to see the way his wards got overawed by their Dutch rivals and simply forgot their natural game.

"The boys had done a lot of hard work and it was quite baffling that they did not put all the practice into play in the first half against The Netherlands," he said.

"They seemed to be star struck or something yesterday.

They obviously could not hear me yelling and screaming from the sidelines to go out and play their game," Nobbs added.

He, however, is hopeful of turning things around against New Zealand on Wednesday.

Photograph: Jeff Gross/Getty Images

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