BHUBANESWAR: 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 here on Thursday.
India can still qualify for the quarterfinals if they beat New Zealand in their crossover match here 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 directly qualify 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.
When two teams are on same points and won equal number of matches, the ranking is decided by goal difference.
India will play New Zealand — the third-placed team in Pool C — on Sunday in their crossover match here.
England wait one of the four qualifiers to the quarterfinals from the crossover matches. They play on January 25 against the winner of the second placed team in Pool A vs the third placed side in Pool B.
The last round matches of Pool A and Pool B will be played on Friday in Rourkela, the co-host venue.
Played under windy conditions with the temperature hovering just over 20 degree celsius at the jampacked Kalinga Stadium, India played their worst match of the tournament.
India dominated all throughout but their goal-scoring woes continued for the second match in a row.
The Indians got seven penalty corners and at least six other scoring chances but their forwards wasted most of them.
Wales, who are ranked at 14th as against India’s fifth, punched above their weight as their defence did a commendable job in the face of incessant Indian attacks.
The first chance of the match fell to Mandeep Singh in the very first minute but his reverse attempt was saved by the Wales goalkeeper.
Another reverse shot in the ninth minute, this time from Nilakanta Sharma’s stick was blocked by a Wales defender.
Wales entered the Indian circle in the 13th minute but Rhodri Furlong’s cross from the right did not get any contact from anybody’s stick.
Just a few seconds later, Mandeep had another try from the top of Wales circle but the goalkeeper was at it again, denying India any goal in the first quarter.
India earned a penalty corner in the first minute of the second quarter but captain Harmanpreet Singh’s feeble drag-flick did not create any trouble.
Mandeep earned India’s second penalty corner in the seventh minute of the second quarter. Harmanpreet’s drag-flick was rebounded from a defender but Shamsher’s powerful shot from top of the circle beat the Wales goalkeeper to hand India the lead.
James Carlson, though, got a great chance for Wales towards the end of second quarter but his hit went wide.
India led 1-0 at half time.
Wales earned their first penalty corner in the second minute of the third quarter but wasted it.
Just a minute later, Akashdeep found himself clear on the top of Wales circle and his fierce hit beat the rival goalkeeper for India’s second goal.
India got their fourth penalty corner just after the second goal but Wales goalkeeper Toby Reynolds Cotterill blocked Harmanpreet’s drag-flick.
Amit Rohidas tried his luck from India’s fifth penalty corner but he too was ineffective in the 11th minute of third quarter.
Just a few seconds later, Harmanpreet’s flick was saved by the Wales goalkeeper.
Soon after, India’s defence was breached for the first time in the tournament with Furlong sounding the board from Wales’ second set piece three minutes from the end of third quarter.
Less than a minute from the end of the third quarter, Wales stunned the vociferous home crowd as they equalised through Draper, who beat Indian goalkeeper PR Sreejesh all ends up from his side’s third penalty corner.
Akashdeep brought back the deafening roar of the home crowd again as his thunderous reverse shot in the first minute of the fourth quarter gave India the lead again.
Two minutes later, Sukhjeet Singh could have increased the lead for the hosts but he failed to beat the Wales goalkeeper, who produced a brilliant performance.
Abhishek found the Wales net later but his goal was disallowed.
A minute before the final hooter, Harmanpreet scored his and India’s first goal from penalty corner to make it 4-2.
Earlier, Phil Roper (10th minute), David Condon (21st), Nicholas Bandurak (50th) and Liam Ansell (51st) scored for England to register a dominating win over Spain. (PTI)