File photo of Hardik Singh© Twitter
Ahead of India’s crucial crossover match against New Zealand on Sunday, star midfielder Hardik Singh has been ruled out of the ongoing Hockey Men’s World Cup. Hardik, who had sustained a hamstring injury during the game against England, was rested for India’s final Pool D game against Wales. Hockey India announced that the midfielder would be replaced by Raj Kumar Pal in the squad. Talking about the decision made by the team management, Chief Coach Graham Reid said: “Overnight we had to make the difficult decision of replacing Hardik Singh in the Indian team for Sunday’s match vs New Zealand and the subsequent World Cup matches.”
“While the injury was not as severe as the initial incident suggested, time was not on our side and after our ongoing thorough rehabilitation process and functional and on-field assessment today, it has been decided that we will replace Hardik with Raj Kumar Pal. While it is extremely disappointing for Hardik personally of course, given how well he played in our first two matches, we are excited at the prospects of Raj Kumar joining the group for the remaining World Cup matches,” Reid added.
Earlier, a below-par India beat tournament debutants Wales 4-2 in their final pool match but failed to qualify directly for the quarterfinals of the FIH Men’s World Cup in Bhubaneswar on Thursday. India can still qualify for the quarterfinals if they beat New Zealand in their crossover match in Bhubaneswar on Sunday. Akashdeep Singh (32nd and 45th minutes) struck twice, while Shamsher Singh (21st) and Harmanpreet Singh (59th) got the other goals for India.
Gareth Furlong (42nd) and Jacob Draper (44th) were the goal-getters for Wales.
Needing to win by a margin of eight goals to qualify directly for the quarterfinals, India failed to live up to the expectations as they finished second in Pool D behind England.
Both India and England ended their pool engagements on seven points each after winning two matches and drawing one but the European side topped Pool D on the basis of superior goal difference.
England, who had outclassed Spain 4-0 in the earlier Pool D match here, have a better goal difference of plus nine as against four of India.
(With PTI inputs)
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