Men’s Hockey: Harendra calls for efficiency in attack

Rupinder, S.V. Sunil and Mandeep Singh strikes propelled the home side to a 3-1 win

Harendra Singh has called on his players to be more efficient inside the circle after India’s win over New Zealand in the second hockey Test here on Saturday.

Goals from drag-flicker Rupinder Pal Singh and forwards S.V. Sunil and Mandeep Singh propelled the home side to a 3-1 victory at the SAI, but India’s chief coach wanted more from his attackers.

“I’m not happy,” Harendra said.

“In the first quarter, we made 18 circle penetrations. I do not expect 50 per cent but at least 35-40 per cent of those penetrations to result in shots on goal.

“That’s where we have to work. We are rushing the ball in. We need to step back if it’s too crowded and try from another angle to catch the goalkeeper out of position. We changed that a bit in the second half.”

Rupinder Pal converted a penalty corner to open the scoring in the 18th minute before Stephen Jenness pulled one back for the visitor.

Strikes from Sunil (27) and Mandeep (56) then helped India, which won the first Test on Thursday, secure the three-match series.

While pleased with the result, Harendra noted that India had to be wary of being caught on the counter-attack by long balls over the defence.

“Whenever we’re pressing hard, we’re slipping and the opponent lobs the ball over the defenders to create a chance. This happened in both the games. We should not allow it,” he said.

Harendra stated, however, that he would not stray from his philosophy of playing attacking hockey.

“We have to play attacking hockey (to succeed),” he said. “We’ll press hard and see how we can achieve more circle penetrations. We need to work on shifting the ball quickly into the net for which they need speed. That’s the theme of the game right now.”

The third and final match of the series will be played on Sunday.

The result: India 3 (Rupinder Pal Singh 18, S.V. Sunil 27, Mandeep Singh 56) bt New Zealand 1 (Stephen Jenness 24).

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