Harpal Singh Bedi
New Delhi: India squandered 4-1 lead as England staged a stunning comeback to make it 4-4 and share points in the Pool B of Men’s Hockey tournament in Commonwealth Games in Birmingham on Monday.
For India who led 3-0 at half time, Mandeep Singh (13′, 22′) Lalit Kumar Upadhyay (3′) and Harmanpreet Singh (46′) were the goal scorers. Nicholas Bandurak (47′, 53′) Liam Ansell (42’) and Phillip Roper (50′) scored for the hosts .
India got off to a great start with Hardik Singh charging from the left flank soon after the starting whistle to put England on the backfoot.
Minutes later, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay earned the first Penalty Corner for India, and he scored from the rebound to give his team an early lead. The young Vivek Sagar Prasad brilliantly came to the defence after England earned a Penalty Corner of their own.
With minutes left on the clock in the first quarter, Hardik Singh launched a brilliant counter-attack, as he sent the ball to Mandeep Singh inside the striking circle who struck a powerful tomahawk into the nets to make it 2-0 .
Vivek Sagar Prasad and Hardik Singh continued to press deep on the left flank at the start of the second quarter. Sam Ward created pressure on Indian defence from the right flank, as he tried to cross the ball to William Calnan inside the circle.
But Krishan Pathak stepped forward to close the angle and made a smart save to deny the opposition.
Mandeep Singh created another goal for India with an outstanding move inside the circle to give India 3-0 lead. ‘
England’s Christopher Griffiths took a shot on target, but could only find the sidebar, and India went to halftime break with a 3-0 lead.
As the second half kicked off, England started holding on to ball possession as they searched for an opening inside the rival’s circle. But India continued to defend in numbers, not allowing the opposition any opportunity to get a shot on target.
Mandeep Singh continued to be the target man inside the circle as Gurjant Singh tried to find him to create an opportunity, only to be stopped midway by England’s defence. Liam Ansell managed to get the ball into the nets before the end of the third quarter as England got themselves on the board.(1-3)
Gaining confidence from the late goal scored in third quarter, England started pressing deep in the final 15 minutes to try and further reduce the deficit. But a costly error in defence from England earned India another Penalty Corner, and Harmanpreet Singh converted it with ease to make it to 4-1.
England’s Nicholas Bandurak scored a minute later to reduce the gap to 4-2. Phillip Roper broke through Indian defence and hit the ball past goalkeeper Krishan Pathak as England added another goal to the board.(4-3)
Nicholas Bandurak converted yet again from a counter-attack as England drew level, with minutes left on the clock. India faced some nervy moments with England building pressure but managed to hold on till the final whistle as the match ended in a 4-4 draw.