Penalty corners can change the complexion of a hockey game. But, the Indian team paints a grim picture, at least if the statistic about its conversion rate is anything to go by.
Despite possessing a number of quality drag-flick specialists in the side, the current Indian team has an abysmal record in penalty corner conversion rate. The problem continues to hinder them at the ongoing Hockey World League (HWL) Final. Even during their Asia Cup triumph, except for Harmanpreet Kaur, no one really stood out of India.
To be precise, India had a poor penalty corner conversion rate of 21.88 per cent during their Asia Cup title triumph in Dhaka. If that was not enough, the home team’s percentage rate has fallen to 15.38 per cent in the HWL Final.
Out of 32 short corners they earned during the Asia Cup, India converted just seven and in this tournament the Manpreet Singh-led side converted two out of 13 in three pool games.
Despite having four penalty corner specialists in the team Rupinderpal Singh, Harmanpreet Singh, Varun Kumar and Amit Rohidas, India continued to falter. Hence, it was no surprise that they finished the pool stage winless.
Former captain Sandeep Singh, who is one of the best drag-flickers the country has ever produced, was candid in his assessment about India’s poor conversion rate.
Give other players a chance
“We have been let down by our finishing in the pool matches. We had the better share of ball possession, more number of penalty corners but our finishing was not up to the mark,” said Sandeep. “What I feel is if we can have 35 to 40 per cent penalty corner conversion rate in a match, no team can beat us,” added Sandeep, who has scored 145 goals from set pieces in 185 international games.
Stating that most of top international teams have devised strong penalty corner defence these days, Sandeep feels that it is high time India coach Sjoerd Marije try his back-up penalty corner options Varun Kumar and Amit Rohidas in the coming matches, to add variety.
“Nowadays most of the teams are continuously working on penalty corner defence. In India’s last match against Germany we have seen how quick the German runners were during penalty corners and it didn’t allow much time to Indian drag-flickers to pick their spots. We should devise innovative ideas according to the strategy of the opposition teams,” Sandeep said.
“Till now we have seen only Rupinder and Harman take penalty corners but I feel Varun and Amit should also be tried as it will not only give variation and but also add an X factor,” he added.