New Delhi: Out of title race after a crushing defeat at the hands of Australia, hosts India would be hoping for a miracle when they take on Olympic champions Germany in the fifth-eighth place play-off game of the Hero Hockey World League Final, here tomorrow.
Going into the clash, the Indians can take heart from their drawn pool match against the same team.
India squandered a two-goal lead against world champions Australia to suffer a 2-7 hammering in the quarterfinal of the eight-nation tournament at the Major Dhyan Chand Stadium yesterday.
Much to the surprise of the Australians, India took a two-goal lead in the first 15 minutes of the opening half through Birendra Lakra (6th minute) and Yuvraj Walmiki (11th minute).
But the Australians showed tremendous fighting spirit to score three goals in the opening period through Nicholas Budgeon (24th), Jason Wilson (29th) and Glenn Turner (35th) to go into the break with their nose ahead.
After the changeover, Australia went on a rampage as they scored goals at will through Russell Ford (41st, 47th), Simon Orchard (45th) and Jacob Whetton (65th) to teach the hosts a lesson in hockey.
The Germans too have not had the best of outings in the tournament so far, losing 1-2 against Netherlands in another quarterfinal yesterday. Germany had finished second in Pool A with one win, one draw and a loss.
And come tomorrow, the Indians would be hoping to take inspiration from their morale-boosting 3-3 draw in the pool stages against the Germans to pull out a win which has so far eluded them in the tournament.
Contrary to the final result against Australia yesterday, it was India who dominated the early share of exchanges with some sharp moves.
The Indians looked a superior side at least in the first 20 minutes of the game. The midfield and forwardline coordinated well to create numerous scoring opportunities and trouble the Australian defence.
In fact, the fancied Kookaburras were caught napping by the pace of India`s relentless attacks in the first 20 minutes of the match.
But as the match progressed, the Indians started to tire out as Australia steadily took control of the proceedings.
Chief coach Terry Walsh too agreed that India lost out to Australia on physical fitness, saying after the early domination, the hosts "ran into a wall" as far as physiology was concerned.
"It was a very positive start. Australia were disintegrated in the first 20 minutes but physiologically we ran into a wall. Australia were much more stronger and powerful than us. Australia are physically much more superior than us," Walsh had said.
The Germans were lacklustre in their pool encounter against India, who came up with much-improved performance to dominate the match.
Sardar and Co. Were the better side on display throughout the match against Germany in the pool match but Walsh would be hoping for a better result from his wards tomorrow.
But an aspect which will continue to haunt Walsh is the ordinary showing of his dragflickers.
Despite having three specialist dragflickers in the team in VR Raghunath, Rupinderpal Singh and Amit Rohitdas, India have not been upto the mark with penalty corner conversions so far in the eight-nation event.
The hosts got three penalty corners against Australia yesterday but, as has been the case in this tournament, wasted all.
But after an ordinary show so far, the Germans would be desperate to prove their billing and India would find them a tough nut to crack.
If India lose tomorrow`s encounter, they will face either Belgium or Argentina to avoid the wooden spoon on Saturday.
Meanwhile in other matches of the day, England will take on New Zealand in the first semifinal, while Australia will square off against Neherlands in the second last four match.