Monday, May 21, 2012

India batting for sixer or better in London

INDIA coach Michael Nobbs is looking for a top-six finish in the London Olympics, and the Azlan Shah Cup starting on Thursday will be a perfect test for his charges.
     The Australian, who brought down a mixed team, arrived yesterday and traveled to Ipoh with his charges via the ETS from Kuala Lumpur.
   “I am building a side to finish among the top-six in London, and the Azlan Shah Cup will provide us another test on a blue pitch against five other Olympians,” said Knobbs at the old Kuala Lumpur railway station yesterday.
    India played in a Four-Nation Invitational at the Olympic hockey venue in London early in the month, and lost 2-1 to Britain in the bronze match, while Germany beat Australia 5-2 for the gold medal.
   In the earlier matches, India lost 3-0 to Australia, 2-1 to Germany, and 4-2 to Britain.
    “And after the Azlan Shah Cup, we will be playing 10 more matches in Europe before the final selection is made,” said Knobbs.
    India’s ace penalty corner flicker Sandeep Singh, who twice became the top-scorer in the Azlan Shah Cup, hopes the pitch is much better than the one at the Olympic venue in London.
   “Hopefully the pitch is not as bumpy as the one in London. I had problems executing drag flicks (during penalty corners) and this affected the outcome of our,” said Sandeep.
    For Rupinder Pal Singh, the joint top scorer last year with six goals, the presence of Sandeep somewhat eases the load off his shoulders.
   “Obviously Sandeep will have the first bite but it also gives us more options during penalty corners,” said Rupinder Pal who was seen watching several penalty corner variations on a lap-top with Nobbs while waiting for their ETS to Ipoh.
     “We need to be consistent as the matches in Ipoh will provide the coach with valuable input that will ultimately decide who travels to London,” said Rupinder Pal.
   As for Malaysia, coach Tai Beng Hai will name his final 18 today in Ipoh. There are 26 trainees, with eight of them juniors who won gold at the Junior Asia Cup in Malacca.
     FIXTURES -- Thursday: Pakistan v Argentina (4pm), New Zealand v India (6pm), Korea v Malaysia (8pm).
    FRIDAY: New Zealand v Argentina (4pm), Britain  v Malaysia (6pm), Korea  v India (8pm).
    SUNDAY: New Zealand v Pakistan (4pm), Korea v Argentina (6pm), Britain v India (8pm).
    MAY 28: Korea v Pakistan (4pm), Britain v Argentina (6pm), India v Malaysia (8pm).
     MAY 30:  Argentina  v  India (4pm), Britain v New Zealand (6pm), Pakistan  v Malaysia (8pm).
     MAY 31: Britain v Korea (4pm), Pakistan v India (6pm), New Zealand  v  Malaysia (8pm).
     JUNE 2: Korea v New Zealand (4pm), Britain v Pakistan (6pm), Argentina v Malaysia (8pm).