Spanked in their opening two games by their opponents, a lacklustre India face an uphill task to get their campaign back on track at the Hockey World League Finals as they take on Olympic champions Germany in their last pool match here on Monday.
India would be hoping for a much improved performance against the mighty Germans at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium, especially after their shoddy performances against England and New Zealand.
But for that to happen, the Indians will have to lift their games by leaps and bounds, which is looking pretty bleak in the present circumstances.
India looked rusty and completely off-colour in their opening two Pool A matches against England (0-2) and New Zealand (0-3).
The hosts cut a sorry figure in all departments of the game in the two matches they played in the tournament so far.
There was no co-ordination between the Sardar Singh-led midfield and the young forwardline. If that was not enough, the defence, India's perennial problem, continued to commit silly mistakes when put under pressure.
The eight-time Olympic champions erred in their basic skills -- trapping and passing the ball -- in the first two matches.
With the presence of three drag-flick exponents in the side in the form V R Raghunath, Rupinderpal Singh and Amit Rohitdas, India were regarded as a formidable force in penalty corner conversions but they failed to convert a single one in the last two games in spite of earning a handful of set pieces.
India's performances in the first two games had been a cause of worry for its chief coach Terry Walsh, who is guiding the side for the first time in an international event after taking charge of the team only in last November.
In fact, Walsh was livid with his wards' performance against New Zealand, terming it "sub-standard" and "unacceptable".
"Our performance was sub-standard and unacceptable. We play well in training but when it comes to performing under pressure we falter," Walsh had said after New Zealand game.
"We are making a lot of errors in executing our basic skills. We were horrible with our penalty corner conversions. It is very frustrating to see the team missing scoring opportunities," he said.
The format of the tournament might have assured all participating teams a place in the quarterfinals, but the results of the pool stages holds great significance for a team like India, who are hoping to reclaim their past glory in world hockey.
Even if they lose against world number one team Germany, India will qualify for the quarterfinals as the results of the pool stages will only determine who will play whom in the knock-out phase.
But Walsh would be hoping for a turnaround from his wards in terms of performance to justify the potential of the team. If not a win, India would be eyeing at least a draw against Germany, but considering the level of both the sides and current rankings, it seems unlikely.
If India finishes at the bottom of Pool A, they will play the top team of Pool B in the quarterfinals.
Germany, on the other hand, would be desperate to live upto their reputation and return to winning ways, especially after the shocking 1-2 loss at the hands of England on Saturday.
Looking at India's showing so far in the eight-nation event, the Germans, who thrashed New Zealand 6-1 in their tournament opener, would undoubtedly fancy their chances.
But somewhere down the line, the Germans would be little cautious going into tomorrow's game as they won't like to see a repeat of what happened against England.
Germany's coach Markus Weise had already made his intentions clear that they would play for a win against India.
"We are disappointed with our performance (against England) but we are hoping for a good show in the next game. Our next game is with India and we will play to win," he had said.