Midfielder Hardik Singh will not be able to play in the rest of the FIH Men's Hockey World Cup due to an injury to his hamstring. He got injured during India's match against England on January 15th and has not been able to recover in time for the match against New Zealand on Sunday. This is a significant setback for the Indian team, attacking department, and also because they will face defending champions Belgium in the quarterfinals if they beat New Zealand on Sunday.
Hardik, who scored a brilliant solo goal in India's 2-0 win over Spain in the opening match, will be replaced by alternate player Raj Kumar Pal.
Hardik did not play against Wales. "Having rested the youngster for the match against Wales, and subsequent assessment, Hardik has now been ruled out of the FIH Odisha Hockey Men's World Cup 2023 Bhubaneswar-Rourkela," Hockey India said in a statement.
Talking about the decision made by the team management, chief coach Graham Reid said: "Overnight we had to make the difficult decision of replacing Hardik Singh in the Indian team for Sunday's match vs New Zealand and the subsequent World Cup matches."
"While the injury was not as severe as the initial incident suggested, time was not on our side and after our ongoing thorough rehabilitation process and functional and on-field assessment today, it has been decided that we will replace Hardik with Raj Kumar Pal. While it is extremely disappointing for Hardik personally of course, given how well he played in our first two matches, we are excited at the prospects of Raj Kumar joining the group for the remaining World Cup matches," Reid added.
Having finished second in Pool D, India will need to win against New Zealand in the crossover match to book a quarterfinal berth. India needed to beat Wales -- eight places below them in world rankings, by a margin of eight goals to top Pool D and qualify directly for the quarterfinals but the home side could only notch up a 4-2 win on Thursday.
India will be facing the New Zealand team in their next match. The Black Sticks are currently ranked third in Pool C with one victory and two defeats.