Women’s Hockey World Cup: What does India need to advance? | Hockey

On paper, considering three consecutive victories against the world’s 12th-ranked outfit earlier this year in the Asia Cup and Pro League, India can be expected to ease into China on Tuesday evening. But that was not to be as the World Cup match between the two neighbors ended in a 1-1 draw at Amstelveen’s Wagener Stadium.

It was India’s second consecutive draw after a 1-1 draw against England on Sunday. New Zealand drew 2-2 against China in the Pool B opener on Saturday.

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But the scenario changed after New Zealand’s surprise 3-1 win over England, who dropped to No. 5 in the world, late on Tuesday night. New Zealand’s win means they are guaranteed a place in the next stage of the competition, with two more teams in the remaining three.

A World Cup draw means that the top team after the group stage will qualify directly for the quarter finals. The second- and third-place teams play crossover matches against outfits from other pools to qualify for the last eight. The last-placed team is eliminated from the competition and participates only in the classification playoffs.

Juggling nerves, some high-tempo action, missed opportunities and a flurry of encounters have turned the group completely on its head after the first two rounds to be played on Thursday.

India (2 points) will face current leaders New Zealand (4) on Thursday, while bottom-placed England (1) will take on China (2). A win for India would guarantee a place in the next stage of the competition, which could be a quarter-final or a crossover depending on the outcome of the other match.

The goal difference boils down to the Asian side topping the group if China topple England, who have been on the podium at the last three Olympics as Great Britain. A draw or loss to China would ensure India a quarter final spot.

England, the 2016 Olympic champions as Great Britain and the highest-ranked team in the group, have not been firing on all their cylinders. For most of the match against the Black Sticks, England dominated but failed to capitalize on much of their possession or circle entries. In total, England had 14 penalty corners but scored just one goal, leaving head coach David Ralph concerned as the team faces its final pool match against China.

A draw against New Zealand will ensure the Savita Punia-led outfit a place in the crossovers, regardless of the outcome of the other Pool B match. But if India lose, Janneke Schopmann will become the head coach as their chances of qualification will depend entirely on the outcome of the game between China and England, which could knock them out of the World Cup after the round robin.

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