Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Former Olympian and Odisha hockey star Lazarus Barla feels that penalty corner conversion, penetration in the 'D' area and consistency are some of the key areas in which the Indian team has to improve in the crucial encounter against England in the FIH Odisha Men’s Hockey World Cup at Birsa Munda stadium in Rourkela on Sunday.

“India played so well against Spain in their opening encounter. However, there is one area for improvement and that is definitely penalty corner conversions,” said Barla.

“Against formidable teams like England, the margin for error is too little. Hence, India have to be extremely careful to grab the penalty corner chances with both the hands and convert them into goals to have an upper hand. They can’t afford to miss the penalty stroke chances as well,” said the former India star player.

As per the former Olympian, England have a very good track record against India and history is replete with incidents when they have often put the Indian team in dip trouble in big occasions.

“Indian players have to be extremely agile and alert inside the D area to have accurate penetration. The strikers have the onus to improve their games a few notches higher in the crucial game,” said the former defender.

India have often a knack of conceding last moment goals under high pressure in high-octane games. However, Barla feels that the Men in Blue have improved a lot by working hard on their basics.

“We have a very good defense line. We defended well against Spain with only 10 players during the last part of the game against Spain as one of the players was shown yellow card. But consistency is going to be the key against England which is a perennial problem for India. Skipper Harmanpreet Singh and coach Graham Reid have to be extremely careful to guard the Indian players against complacency,” Barla signed off.