The Indian men’s hockey team notched up a 2-1 win over reigning FIH Hockey Pro League champion Netherlands in the third-fourth placing match here at the 100th Anniversary Spanish Hockey Federation - International Tournament on Sunday.
Captain Harmanpreet Singh (15th) and Dilpreet Singh (50th) scored in India’s hard-fought victory, while Thierry Brinkman (25th) scored the lone goal for the Dutch side.
Interestingly, all goals came from penalty corners.
India got off to a cautious start, not allowing the Dutch to make easy forays into the striking circle. The team’s forwards, on the other hand, stitched together a clever strategy that forced the Dutch defenders to make errors.
The tactic worked when India managed its first PC with just 30 seconds left for the first hooter. In-form Indian skipper Harmanpreet, who had to re-take the dragflick after the first attempt was stopped by Netherlands’ first rusher, was on target, fetching his team an important 1-0 lead in the 15th minute.
The following quarter saw Netherlands bounce back when Brinkman converted a well-executed penalty corner in the 20th minute. The equaliser did not deter the Indian team as it remained determined in its pursuit to end the campaign on a winning note.
While no goals came through in the third quarter, there were some tense moments in the fourth quarter when the match looked like it would go into a penalty shootout.
While Netherlands squandered a few opportunities to score, the Indian side did well to hold its nerves and convert from a PC in the 50th minute.
While Amit Rohidas’ drag was padded away by the Dutch goalie Mauritis Visser, India’s fearless striker Dilpreet picked up a fine rebound to push the ball into the post.
The 2-1 lead increased the pressure on the Dutch side, which looked for ways to score an equaliser. In the final moments, it was successful in earning back-to-back PCs but India did well to defend its score and finish on a winning note.
The Indian team will arrive in Chennai in the early hours of Tuesday morning to play the much-awaited Asian Champions Trophy starting on August 3 at the Mayor Radhakrishnan Hockey Stadium.
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