Kuantan (Malaysia):Out of medal contention, defending champions India will test their bench strength when they take on minnows Bangladesh in the sixth-seventh ranking play-off match of the Asia Cup hockey tournament on Thursday.
After suffering a 2-3 defeat against arch-rivals Pakistan in their tournament opener, India needed an outright win against China in their last group match on Tuesday to progress to the semifinals.
But all the Sandeep Singh-led side managed was a 2-2 draw to see their title defence go up in smoke.
Disappointed with the performance of his wards, India's coach-in-charge Harendra Singh said he would give the reserve players a chance tomorrow.
"For the first time in eight months I didn't achieve the target I had set. So, I will try out my bench strength tomorrow," a dejected Harendra said.
"I will give players like Hari Prasad, VS Vinaya and Ajitesh Roy a chance to play in the next match," he added.
The winner of the India-Bangladesh match will face Japan in the fifth-sixth place play-off match on Friday.
Bangladesh got some sound thrashing from South Korea, Malaysia and Japan and should be an easy meat for the eight-time Olympic champions but Harendra was not ready to take things for granted.
"We cannot take any international team lightly, whether it's Bangladesh or anyone else. We have to come out of our defensive mindset. We have to play attacking hockey and there is no other alternative," he said.
India's forward line, comprising Rajpal Singh and Prabhjot Singh, has been inconsistent in the tournament so far, squandering innumerable opportunities and the match against Bangladesh gives them an opportunity to salvage some reputation.
Even though Sandeep converted two of the four penalty chances against China, the Indian captain has been less than impressive, missing as many as five drag-flicks against Pakistan.
Incidentally, the Bangladesh team is coached by India's first foreign coach Gerrard Rach of Germany.