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Hockey World Cup scenarios: What India needs to do to reach quarterfinals

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India will play their final group match of the FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup on Thursday against Wales, at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar.

The hosts are guaranteed to progress at least to the crossover stage of the competition, with their four points from the opening two matches guaranteeing them at least third spot in Pool D.

But Graham Reid’s side will look to finish top of the pool, which means they directly reach the quarterfinals while also getting an additional few days of rest before the last-eight clash.

As things stand India are second in the pool, behind England on goal difference. On Thursday, England face Spain before India’s clash against Wales, so the hosts will know exactly what they would have to do to top the pool.

What India have to do to top Pool D

If England beat Spain: India need to better England’s margin of victory by four goals.

If England do not beat Spain: A win of any margin would take India through to the quarterfinals as pool winners.

India’s path in the knockout stages:

If India win Pool D

If India manage to win the pool, then their quarterfinal clash would be against the winners of the crossover match between the second-placed team in Pool B and the third-placed team in Pool A.

France’s win over South Africa on Monday means they are likely to finish third in Pool A, whereas the runners-up in Pool B will be decided in Bhubaneswar on Tuesday night, with the loser of the match between Belgium and Germany likely to take that spot.

On rankings, Belgium should beat Germany, and Germany should get the better of France. In that case, the Germans would be India’s quarterfinal opponents.

Barring any upsets, Australia should make the semifinals in that section of the draw, and they would await the winner of India’s quarterfinal clash.

If India finish second in Pool D

In this case, India would have to play a crossover tie on January 22 against the third-placed team in Pool C, which is likely to be Malaysia.

Should India then win that crossover tie, they would face the winners of Pool B in the quarterfinal – which is likely to be Belgium. A potential semifinal will against the winners of the match between Pool C toppers (likely to be the Netherlands) and the winner of the crossover tie between the runners-up of Pool A (potentially Argentina) and the third-placed team in Pool B (South Korea or Japan).

If India finish third in Pool D

For India to finish third in Pool D, Spain would have to draw against, or beat England, while the hosts lose to Wales in the final pool match.

If those results happen, then India will face the runners-up of Pool C (likely to be New Zealand) in the crossover clash, before a quarterfinal clash against the winners of Pool A, which should be Australia.

In conclusion, India will look to finish top of Pool D because it would help them avoid a quarterfinal clash against either of the two tournament favourites – Australia and Belgium – while also getting a six-day break to recharge ahead of the knockout stages.