A win away?
A win away from rewriting history after a long gap of 15 years, Indian colts would look to showcase their best and leave nothing to chance when they take on Belgium in the summit showdown of the men’s Junior Hockey World Cup on Sunday. The wintry Sunday could turn out to be the biggest day for these Under-21 Indian hockey players as they chase a dream of winning the mega event for the second time. India had earlier won the trophy way back in 2001 in Hobart, Australia. This is India’s third entry into the final of the Junior World Cup after having finished runners-up in 1997. Assured of the silver medal, the Indians would now eye nothing less than the yellow metal. India’s head coach Harendra Singh had told his players that it is now in their hands to decide the colour of the medal in what is seen as the “biggest game” of their career. Besides the momentum, the Indians would also rely on the crowd support. Lucknow knows its hockey and 15,000 odd fans never gave up hope and kept on cheering when India trailed in the last two games against Spain and Australia. After a lacklustre performance against Spain in the quarter-finals, Indian colts dished out their best hockey of the tournament so far against Australia but the hosts would aim to raise the bar further. The only area of concern for India’s coaching staff is the penalty corner conversion rate of dragflickers Harmanpreet and Varun Kumar. All said and done, the Indians can’t afford to take first-time finalists Belgium lightly. The European side has been making rapid progress in both the senior and junior levels over a period of time. In fact, Belgium is the only side against whom the Indian colts had lost 2-4 in the four-nation tournament in Valencia, leading up to the ongoing tournament.