Birmingham, Aug 1:
India squandered a three-goal advantage and were held to a 4-4 draw by hosts England in their second Pool B match at the Commonwealth Games men’s hockey here on Monday.
The Indians started brilliantly and dominated the first two quarters to enjoy a comfortable 3-0 lead at half time.
But the Englishmen came out hard in the final two quarters to stun the Indians.
England were also helped by three cards to India’s Varun Kumar twice, one for five minutes in the first half and then again 10 minutes in the second half, besides a 10-minute suspension for Gurjant Singh in the final quarter for dangerous play.
The Indians scored through Lalit Upadhayay (3rd minute), Mandeep Singh (13th and 22nd) and Harmanpreet Singh (46th) from a penalty corner.
England produced a valiant fightback in the second half and scored through Liam Ansell (42nd), Nick Bandurak (47th, 53rd) and Phil Roper (53rd).
Both India and England have faced each other four times in CWG history, winning two matches each. In their last meeting, England came out on top in the bronze medal match at Gold Coast 2018, winning 2-1.
Desperate to avenge that loss, the Indians came out attacking and dominated England in all aspects of the game. While India were on the offensive, England were content on defending deep.
India didn’t take too long to take the lead when Lalit pouched in to score from a rebound off Harmanpreet Singh’s flick from a penalty corner. (PTI)
England won a penalty corner soon, but wasted the opportunity.
With less than three minutes remaining from the first quarter, India mounted a counter-attack and Nilakanta Sharma beautifully laid it up for Mandeep, who used his experience to slot home the ball with a brilliant reverse hit to hand India a 2-0 lead.
The Indians continued to dominate the proceedings in the second quarter and mounted attacks after attacks on the English citadel.
Mandeep extended India’s lead in the 22nd minute when he brilliantly spun to shot towards the goal, and the ball went in after getting a deflection from an English defender.
The Indians continued in same vein in the initial stages of the third quarter, but England made their presence as time went by.
England had the better share of possession in the third quarter as India went on a defensive mode.
In the 42nd minute England secured a penalty corner, but first rusher Amit Rohidas came to India’s rescue with fearless run to deny Sam Ward.
A minute later Liam Ansell scored from a field effort to reduce the margin.
Four minutes later India secured a penalty corner and this time, Harmanpreet was bang on target with a fierce low flick to the bottom right corner of the England goal.
But Varun’s suspension hit India hard as England took full use of of the one-man advantage to press hard on the Indian defence and pulled another back in the 47th minute when Bandurak neatly deflected in skipper Jack Waller’s pass.
In the very next minute English keeper Oliver Payne made a fine goal-line save to deny Hardik Singh.
England kept up their pressure and secured another penalty corner, but the Indian defended in numbers.
In the 50th minute, Roper made made it 4-3 with a brilliant field goal after dancing down from the left flank.
With nine minutes to go, Gurjant earned a 10-minute suspension for a dangerous tackle and it cost India heavily, as Bandurak deflected in a pass from a counter-attack to level the scores and stun the Indians.
England kept up the pressure and secured another penalty corner just two minutes from the final hooter, but India managed to keep that away to settle for a draw.
India will next play Canada on Wednesday. (PTI)
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