Hardik Singh ruled out of rest of Hockey World Cup, replaced by Raj Kumar Pal Hockey News

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 suffered a hamstring injury during the game against England, was rested for India’s final Pool D game against Wales. Hockey India has announced that midfielder Raj Kumar will be replaced by Pal. Speaking about the team management’s decision, head coach Graham Reid said: “We had to take the difficult decision overnight to replace Hardik Singh in the Indian squad for Sunday’s match against New Zealand and the next World Cup match.”

“Although the injury was not as serious as initial incidents suggested, time was not on our side and after our ongoing thorough rehabilitation process and functional and on-field evaluation, it has been decided that we will replace Hardik with Raj Kumar Pal. While this is extremely disappointing for Hardik personally, With how well he has played in our first two matches, we are excited about the prospect of Raj Kumar joining the group for the rest of the 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 FIH Men’s World Cup quarter-finals in Bhubaneswar on Thursday. India can still advance to the quarter-finals by defeating New Zealand in their crossover match in Bhubaneswar on Sunday. Akashdeep Singh (32nd and 45th minute) struck twice, while Shamsher Singh (21st) and Harmanpreet Singh (59th minute) scored the other goals for India.

Gareth Furlong (42nd) and Jacob Draper (44th) scored for Wales.

Needing to win by eight goals to advance directly to the quarter-finals, India failed to live up to expectations as they finished second in Pool D behind England.

India and England both finished their pool engagements on seven points after winning two matches and drawing one but the European side topped Pool D on the basis of superior goal difference.

England, who beat Spain 4-0 in their previous Pool D match here, have a goal difference of plus nine to India’s four.

(with PTI input)

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