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Crunch weekend for hockey in New Delhi

Weekend UK TV Highlights (all BBC satellite and cable, red button and on-line)

Saturday
England vs New Zealand (men) 4am
England vs Malaysia (women) 5am
Australia vs Scotland (women) 9am
Scotland vs India (men) 4pm
Sunday
England vs South Africa (men) 7.30am

A great weekend of hockey

The Commonwealth Games hockey tournament reaches a decisive phase this weekend. The women’s semi-finalists will have been decided by Saturday evening, while the men have another 24 hours to wait before the places in the medal rounds are confirmed.
So far, New Zealand’s women are the only definite semi-finalists; the unbeaten Blacksticks 4-1 smashing of England on Friday already having carried them into medal contention. Tournament favourites England must rebound quickly from that loss and beat Malaysia (5am, Saturday morning BBC red button, satellite and cable, in the UK). A win or a draw will see England into the semis. England could also do the Welsh a favour by beating the Asian side by more than two goals. That would pull Wales, who have played all their group games, off the bottom of the table. If it’s exactly two goals then its down to total goals scored.
A win to Malaysia, and England will fail to make the semi-finals – pretty close to disastrous for the pre-tournament favourites and World Club bronze medalists.
Over in group A, Friday’s draw between South Africa and Australia’s women has set up a mathematician’s dream (and a journalists’ nightmare). The Springboks and the Hockeyroos are in pole position with two wins and a draw each, but India and Scotland are just one win behind, though their goal differences are way worse than their southern hemispere opponents. Australia are +12, South Africa +13 India +6 and Scotland +4. So Scotland and India need big wins if they are to topple the likely semi finalists South Africa and Australia.
Australia play Scotland at 1.30pm Delhi time (9am UK, BBC red button satellite and cable). India play South Africa at 6.30pm (2pm UK), by which time they should know their goal targets.

In the men’s tournament this weekend England face the two teams above them in pool B – so their semi-final hopes are in their hands. England play group leaders the New Zealand Blacksticks at 8.30am on Saturday (4am UK, BBC red button satellite and cable), then the undefeated South Africans on Sunday at 12noon (7.30am UK, BBC red button satellite and cable). So only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun do they? With Australia in excellent form over in pool A, first place and avoiding the Kookaburras in the semis is the real prize in pool B.
In pool A, Scotland play India at 8.30pm Saturday (4pm UK, BBC red button satellite and cable) in a game that could be vital to the semi-final places, although Scotland themselves are out of the running. By that time either Pakistan or Australia will have booked a place in the medal rounds, they play at 10.30am (6am UK). The India-Pakistan clash on Sunday night could be volcanic – and crucial to both sides’ medal hopes, but unfortunately it seems to have slipped past the TV schedulers. If you don’t think the Commonwealth Games is all about two historic rivals playing each other at their national games, then don’t bid for the TV rights.
Picture: Crunch time – England and New Zealand could meet again in the final. Image by Andy Smith

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