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Unpredictable India face Olympic champs Argentina in semis

Friday, December 08, 2017
By Saumojyoti S Choudhury

Bhubaneswar: Unpredictability has been haunting Indian men's hockey team for quite some time now but that very factor might just act in their favour when the hosts take on Olympic champions and world no.1 Argentina in the semi-finals of the Hockey World League Final, here today.

For any team in world hockey, predicting India's performance is next to impossible.

'Inconsistent' is the perfect word to sum up India. If one day the Indians are brilliant, the very next day they might give a lacklustre performance.

The same topsy-turvy curve is continuing at the ongoing HWL Final also. After a not-so-impressive pool campaign, India not only stunned world no.3 Belgium but all and sundry at the stadium with their spirited show in the quarterfinals.

And this unpredictably about India is something that is troubling the Argentines ahead of today's last-four duel. "India are a tough team to beat. You can't predict how they will come out in a game and that was visible against Belgium yesterday. They beat the most impressive team of the tournament," Argentina's drag-flick specialist Gonzalo Peillat said after the Los Leones beat England 3-2 in their quarterfinal match at the Kalinga Stadium yesterday.

"India are good in counter-attack. So, we have to be very careful," he added.

Argentina, who finished third in Pool A with just one point, scored through field strikes from Lucas Villa (21st minute) and skipper Mattias Paredes (29th), and a penalty stroke conversion by Juan Gillardi (34th) to eke out their first win of the tournament.

For England, David Condon (29th) and Adam Dixon (60th) found the net but that was not enough to make it to the semis.

Argentina might be the reigning Olympic champions and world's numero uno team at present, but the Indians have better head-to-head record against them.

India and Argentina have so far played 46 games against each other, out of which India have won 26, lost 16 and four ended in a tie.

In fact, India were the only team that defeated Argentina to their way to gold medal triumph in 2016 Olympics. In Rio, the Indians defeated the Los Leones 2-1 in the pool stages. The Indians witnessed a woeful pool campaign here. After an impressive 1-1 draw against Australia in their tournament opener, the hosts went from bad to worse, losing 2-3 and 0-2 against England and Germany, respectively.
 

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