Sultan Azlan Shah Cup: Peillat hat-trick downs India in opening encounter

Gonzalo Peillat scored a hat-trick as India lost to World No. 2 Argentina 2-3 in the opening game of the 27th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey on Saturday.

Argentina beat India 3-2 in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup on Saturday.   -  PTI

India found itself at the receiving end of star penalty corner specialist Gonzalo Peillat’s hat-trick as it lost 2-3 against Olympic champion Argentina in its opening match of the Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament here on Saturday.

All the goals of the rain-affected match came off penalty corners (PCs) with Peillat sounding the board in the 13th, 24th and 33rd minutes while Amit Rohidas (26th, 31st) scored for India.

Play was stopped for nearly an hour in the fourth quarter due to heavy rain and thunderstorm.

India dominated the first quarter; its young forwards pushing the Argentine defenders to create space in the striking circle. Talwinder Singh and debutant Sumit Kumar were impressive as they attempted to beat Argentina’s experienced goalkeeper Juan Vivaldi early in the match.

India made as many as four circle entries against Argentina’s two and it was Sumit Kumar’s burst into the baseline that gave India hopes of breaking the deadlock within the first ten minutes of the match, but the opposition defenders were defiant.

Minutes later, a long ball assist to Talwinder was picked up well but he couldn't quite make an effective connect to put it past Vivaldi.

Though India did well to limit Argentina’s shots on goal, an infringement in the Indian circle helped Isidoro Ibarra earn Argentina the first PC of the match. With world-class drag-flicker Peillat in the ranks, giving away PCs meant trouble for India.

Peillat’s first attempt was blocked by first runner Amit Rohidas. But the second PC was converted by Peillat in the 13th minute to give Argentina a 1-0 lead.

And it was the PCs that Argentina rallied on as the game progressed. It did not help India’s cause when it conceded another penalty corner in the 24th minute. The mistake was punished by Peillat yet again as he broke no sweat to convert. A diving Indian goalkeeper Krishan Pathak could do little to save the powerful drag-flick.

Two minutes later, India won three back-to-back PCs. After the first two attempts had to be re-taken due to infringement, India was third-time lucky as Amit Rohidas improvised on Ramandeep Singh’s injection, keeping low, finding the left pocket of the net.

The 26th-minute goal narrowed the deficit to 1-2 and India did well in the following minutes to keep Argentine forwards in the hunt. Though they forced India to make an error in the circle, winning yet another PC in the 27th minute, the attempt was brilliantly blocked by India’s first runner.

Coming into the third quarter, India struck early as forward Sumit Kumar was aggressive in the baseline to fetch India its fourth PC of the match. Amit Rohidas made no mistake, converting again to give India the much-needed equaliser in the 31st minute.

However, Peillat struck the winner in the 34th minute, taking Argentina’s lead to an eventually unassailable 3-2.