India's hopes of showcasing their competitive edge against the world's best teams in the FIH Hockey Pro League home leg have been dampened by a string of disappointing performances. Despite coach Janneke Schopman's desire to prove their mettle, India suffered their third consecutive defeat on Wednesday, adding to their woes following the heartbreak in Ranchi.
Australia dealt a 3-0 blow to Savita Punia and her team in Bhubaneshwar, leaving India languishing near the bottom of the table upon their return to the multi-nation FIH Hockey Pro League tournament. While a 1-3 loss against the Netherlands, reigning powerhouses in women's hockey, was a formidable challenge, India's struggles on either side of the match raised concerns.
The FIH Hockey Pro League campaign was always going to be a test for Schopman, tasked with revitalizing a squad still reeling from previous setbacks and effecting necessary changes to compete against quality opponents. Despite incorporating fresh talent, India's performance has mirrored their Olympic Qualifiers struggles.
Conversion of chances, particularly penalty corners, remains a pressing issue for India. Despite Gurjit Kaur's return, India faltered in penalty corner situations against Australia, failing to capitalize on five opportunities. Notably, their two goals in the tournament thus far have come from open play.
Defensively, India's vulnerability to penalty corner situations was exposed, with half of their conceded goals originating from such scenarios. Australia capitalized on India's defensive lapses, underscoring India's need for improvement in both offensive and defensive set pieces.
The defeat against Australia, despite the latter's subdued form, highlighted India's struggles to capitalize on opportunities and defend effectively when under pressure. With a crucial match against the USA on the horizon, India faces mounting pressure to secure a much-needed victory and end their five-match home losing streak in the FIH Hockey Pro League campaign.