India squandered a three-goal lead to draw 4-4 with hosts England in their second Pool B match of the Commonwealth Games men’s hockey on Monday. The Indians started brightly and dominated the first two quarters to enjoy a comfortable 3-0 lead at half-time.
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But the English stunned the Indians after a tight contest in the last two quarters. England were helped by three cards twice for India’s Varun Kumar, once for five minutes in the first half and again for 10 minutes in the second half, plus a 10-minute booking for Gurjant Singh in the last quarter for dangerous play. Faced with suspension.
For the Indians, Lalit Upadhyay (3rd minute), Mandeep Singh (13th and 22nd) and Harmanpreet Singh (46th) scored from penalty corners. England staged a brilliant second-half fightback and scored through Liam Ansel (42nd), Nick Bendorak (47th, 53rd) and Phil Roper (53rd).
Both India and England have faced each other four times in CWG history, winning two matches each. In their last meeting, England came out on top with a 2-1 win in the Gold Coast 2018 bronze medal match. Desperate to avenge the loss, the Indians went on the attack and dominated England in all aspects of the game.
While India were on the offensive, England were content to defend deep. It didn’t take long for India to take the lead when Lalit poached in to score from the rebound off Harmanpreet Singh’s flick from a penalty corner.
England soon got a penalty corner but missed the chance. With less than three minutes to go in the first quarter, India counter-attacked and Neelakanta Sharma set it up beautifully for Mandeep, who used his experience to slot the ball home with a brilliant reverse hit. Gives India a 2-0 lead.
The Indians continued to dominate the proceedings in the second quarter and launched attack after attack on the English fort. Mandeep extended India’s lead in the 22nd minute when he took a brilliant spin towards goal, and the ball went in after receiving a deflection from an English defender.
The Indians continued in the same vein in the early stages of the third quarter, but as time wore on, England made their presence felt. England had the better of the third quarter as India went on the defensive.
In the 42nd minute, England won a penalty corner, but first rusher Amit Rohidas saved India with a fearless run to deny Sam Ward. A minute later Liam Ansel scored a field goal to reduce the margin.
Four minutes later India won a penalty corner and this time Harmanpreet scored with a great low flick into the bottom right corner of England’s goal. But Varun’s suspension cost India dearly as England made full use of the one-man advantage to put pressure on the Indian defense and in the 47th minute when Bendoric neatly turned in a pass from captain Jack Waller, one Repelled the other.
In the very next minute, English keeper Oliver Payne made a fine goal-line save to deny Hardik Singh. England kept up their pressure and earned another penalty corner, but the Indians defended in numbers.
In the 50th minute, Roper made it 4-3 with a spectacular field goal after dancing down the left side. With nine minutes to go, Gurjant received a 10-minute suspension for a dangerous tackle and it cost India dearly, as Bandurak scored on the counter-attack to level the scores and stun the Indians.
England kept up the pressure and earned another penalty corner just two minutes from the final hooter, but India managed to keep it out and draw. India will next face Canada on Wednesday.
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