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 Thursday, England beat Spain 4-0 before India's clash against Wales, so the hosts know exactly what they need to do.
Here's a look at India's quarterfinals scenarios ahead of their last group match:
Final pool games:
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India need to beat Wales with a healthy goal-margin to finish on top pic.twitter.com/FlEDi2ReSV
- ESPN India (@ESPNIndia) January 16, 2023
What India have to do to top Pool D
India need to beat Spain by eight goals, following England's 4-0 win over Spain.
However, with field goals also a tie-breaker in Pool standings, India can also top Pool D by beating Wales by a seven-goal margin, but also scoring six field goals. In such a scenario, if India score seven and five field goals, they will face England in a shootout.
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 is still to be decided after Belgium and Germany drew on Tuesday, the latter in second on goal-difference.
On rankings, Germany or Belgium should get the better of France. In that case, either Belgium or Germany 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 New Zealand, following their shock loss to 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 or Germany. A potential semifinal will be 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 (likely South Korea).
If India finish third in Pool D
For India to finish third in Pool D, the hosts have to lose to Wales in the final pool match.
If those results happen, then India will face the runners-up of Pool C (Malaysia) 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 is their best shot at avoiding 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.