The Indian men’s hockey team came up with a spirited performance to hold England 1-1 in their third match at the ongoing 100th Anniversary Spanish Hockey Federation - International Tournament here on Friday.
While Sam Ward scored an early goal for England in the fifth minute, India bounced back to level the scores in the 29th minute through Harmanpreet Singh.
The draw meant India is out of contention for the final on Sunday.
After losing to the host and drawing with the Netherlands in its previous matches, India was looking for an elusive win and a spot in the final.
Despite its positive body language on the field, it was the Brits who got off to a good start, with Ward scoring a stunning field goal.
A tumbling James Oates crossed the ball from the right flank towards the goalpost, which Ward deflected into the post, giving England the lead.
Pawan, who was filling in for PR Sreejesh and Krishan Bahadur Pathak in the goalpost, could do little to defend.
Despite the early setback, India showed tenacity in the following minutes, defending admirably to save two consecutive penalty corners. Meanwhile, the Indian forward line continued their attack, earning a well-deserved penalty corner in the 12th minute. Unfortunately for Indian skipper Harmanpreet, the umpire disallowed his goal for dangerous play.
With England leading by a goal, India came out with a new burst of attack in the early minutes of the second quarter, led by vice-captain Hardik Singh, whose stick-work gave Indian fans hope for a goal.
However, a goal-mouth scramble ensured that England maintained its lead.
It took India a lot of effort to break through the English defence, and it wasn’t until the 29th minute that India was able to level the score. It was Harmanpreet yet again leading the charge, as he broke no sweat in converting a brilliant penalty corner.
A goal just before the 10-minute half-time break meant that the two teams would return with strategies that would promise exciting 30 minutes of play. With a spot in the final at stake, both teams lived up to the billing with their brilliant attacking tactics that kept the spectators glued.
Having shaken off the early nervousness, young India goalie Pawan who replaced Sreejesh in the third quarter came up with a fine save in the 35th minute when England earned a penalty corner.
India too found a couple of chances in the following minutes. But they could not manage to put it past England’s custodian James Mazarelo.
With the score reading 1-1, the final quarter remained tense for India.
Desperate to find a breakthrough, India came up with a disciplined attacking structure while Sreejesh produced some incredible saves to keep the scoreline intact.
India found a golden opportunity to score in the dying minutes when it won a PC. This was after the team had pulled its goalkeeper out for the want of an extra man in their attack. The tactic worked, but India could not convert from the PC with Mazarelo making a fine save with his foot.
That ended India’s hope of progressing to the final in Terassa, Barcelona.
The team will next play the placing match against the losing team of the next league match -- Spain versus the Netherlands -- before heading back home.
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