The Indian men's hockey team climbed two places in the recently declared FIH rankings after consecutive wins in the Pro League games. India registered victories against Germany and Australia in Rourkela. Team India surpassed Australia in the world rankings as the Aussies dropped to fifth position.
India won all their four matches two against Germany and two against Australia in their FIH Pro League campaign at the Birsa Munda Stadium, the world's largest all-seater venue. This is less than two months after India made a shocking last-16 exit in the World Cup held in Bhubaneswar in January.
Following their World Cup loss, India dropped senior players Mandeep Singh, Akashdeep Singh, and Amit Rohidas, while goalkeeper Krishan Pathak also missed due to his wedding in the hockey squad.
India won both matches against Germany 3-2 and 6-3 and they defeated Australia 5-4 and 4-3 in a penalty shootout in the first and second games. After losing two back-to-back games against India, Germany also slipped two places to the third position in the rankings.
The Netherlands who won bronze in the World Cup are the table toppers while runners-up Belgium are in second place in the rankings.
"These things (world ranking) don't matter to us so much. We don't keep this in mind when we play. Our only priority was to convert our chances and keep the pressure on the opponent," India captain Harmanpreet Singh said.
"Some of the youngsters who got an opportunity to show their talent also stood up to the occasion and did very well for themselves as well as the team," he added.
One of the new players who played brilliantly was striker Selvam Karthi, who is now the fourth-highest goal-scorer in the FIH Pro League. Other players like Sukhjeet Singh and Abhishek, who were in the World Cup team, also did well.
"There are many positive takeaways for us from this outing here in Rourkela which will hold us in good stead as we prepare for the upcoming Asian Games," added Harmanpreet.