India will go all out, seeking full points, when they clash with England on Monday in their second group fixture of the hockey World Cup after missing the chance to gain a point against fancied Belgium, thanks to a last-minute goal. (India Lose Narrowly to Belgium)
The Indian team will be looking to avenge their 0-2 loss to England in the World League Finals in New Delhi earlier this year. (How India Lost to Belgium)
Spearheaded by Ashley Jackson, who was sold for USD 73,000 in the Hockey India league auction last year, England are not a very attacking side, but are adept in capitalising on the lapses in rival defenses. (Terry Walsh Has High Hopes for Indian Team)
Plugging the gaps in the defense is what the Indian coaching staff was on Sunday trying to work on, after the dejection of conceding the winner to Belgium with just 15 seconds left for the hooter.
Combating England's typical European style of defensive hockey will put to test the work new coach Terry Walsh and technical director Roelent Oltmans have done with the Indian team in the past six months.
The Indian team today woke up still suffering from the pangs of the missed chance to garner a point against Belgium, the European Cup runners-up who were among the teams tipped to make the semifinals from Group A behind defending champions Australia.
England squandered a first-half lead to draw 1-1 against Spain in their opening game with skipper Barry Middleton playing the pivot.
Walsh may be dejected at his wards not securing a point from their first outing, but the performance has raised his belief in the players. But he knows that they can not afford to repeat the mistakes in the England match.
"England is a formidable opponent and we will be strongly challenged in our match against them. We will have to move the ball effectively and this we will attain by utilising appropriate dodging techniques which will help to create opportunities if we are able to execute in a timely fashion.
"Understanding the deficiencies in our last contest and applying suitable adjustments will be a big test. Within the tournament this game has significant importance and our mental preparations and resilience will be tested," Walsh said.
"How we play, and how close we finish, the fact is that the scores matter in the end," said Walsh, extolling his players to realise the difference this last-minute goal meant.
England coach Bobby Crutchley is frustrated at not having got full points from the first game and said he would look to improve on that against India.
"We've had a decent start, but it's a long tournament and we'll move and build on that for India. We've shown a lot of what we're about and we manage to create a lot of chances," said Crutchley.
Plugging the gaps to keep the England strikers away from the circle is what confronts India, who are currently placed No. 8 in the world rankings, four places behind England (No. 4) and three behind Belgium (No. 5).
Walsh said there were some good aspects to emerge from our game against Belgium.
"Having come level until the last minute, we should have held on to earn a point, but the last 30 second cost us dear," said Walsh, who took over as India's coach six months ago.
India's defence was under pressure for most of the first match against Belgium, but it was not until third goal came just before the hooter that their coach Marc Lammers could breathe easy.
Lammers said the Indian performance was bit of a surprise.
"India played better that I'd seen them do previously. They can be troublesome opponents," said Lammers, a Dutchman under whom The Netherlands women won the 2008 Olympic gold medal at Beijing.
India finished eighth in the 2010 World Cup in New Delhi, but ended at the bottom of the 12-team competition in the 2012 London Olympics.
The Indians have failed to make the semifinals even once since their only 1975 World Cup title win - on grass.
Realising that they had squandered a very good opportunity to extract revenge from Belgium, who had prevailed in three of their last four encounters, the Indian players do realise that things would get tougher to gain points.
"I think we are on the right track, but we'll now have to push ourselves even harder," says captain Sardar Singh, dejected to have conceded the last-minute winner to Belgium, whom India last defeated in the quarterfinals of the Champions Trophy in Melbourne in 2012.
Sardar says his team showed tremendous strength in the opening game, but erred at crucial junctures.
"We are disappointed that we lost the match in the last few minutes yesterday but we will take the positives from the match and apply it during our clash with England tomorrow.
"We realise that they are ranked 4th in the FIH ranking but that will not deter us to go for the win as the boys are high on confidence post yesterdays show of performance and I see them as more determined in their quest for success," Sardar said.
The Indian skipper also said that they will keep a close tab on England's drag flicker Ashley Jackson as he is a "big threat".