FIH Pro League: Indian men's team beats England 3-2 in shootout

India held its nerve to win 3-2 in the penalty shootout but England exposed its defensive issues in the Pro League match at the Kalinga Stadium on Saturday.

Indian men's hockey team's Mandeep Singh controls the ball during FIH Pro League match against England at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Saturday.   -  BISWARANJAN ROUT

India held its nerve to win 3-2 in the penalty shootout but England exposed its defensive issues in the Pro League match at the Kalinga Stadium on Saturday. It was a far from assured performance from the Indian team against an experimental England team.

A strong fourth quarter finish from India was undone when a defensive error led to a penalty stroke awarded with 14 seconds left on the clock. Sam Ward put it away to level the game at 3-3 and take it to a shootout. Goalkeeper Krishan Pathak made four saves to give India the win, which takes it to the top of the table after nine matches.

The new-look Indian midfield was repeatedly overrun by the English counterparts. It took as early as the third minute, when Manpreet Singh was crowded out inside his own half by three England players, forcing a turnover in possession, which led to the first penalty corner for England. That was the overriding theme of the night as bright passages in attack where overshadowed by lack of control in managing the game.

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Zak Jones’ England ended the game with 5 penalty corners to four – all coming in the final quarter – for the home team. The away side made it count twice when Nicholas Bandurak scored either side of India’s first two goals.

Just as in previous games, India jolted into its preferred rhythm in attack after Bandurak’s opening strike. The young forwards in the Indian set-up, post the Tokyo Olympics, continued to impress.

Shamsher Singh was lively in attack and made a clever cut-back from the byline for Abhishek to finish with a thumping back-flick. For India’s lead Shilanand Lakra made a dribbling run from the right, scything past England defenders to allow Shamsher to score off the post.

India ended the final quarter strongly with repeated forays into the opposition D. In the final 10 minutes of the game, India forced three successive penalty corners and eventually found a way through, when Harmanpreet Singh converted his second attempt.

The second leg will be played on Sunday.

RESULT:

India (Abhishek 13', Shamsher Singh 26', Harmanpreet Singh 51') 3 drew with England (Nicholas Bandurak 7', 27', Sam Ward' 59') 3

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