Indian men’s hockey team overcame Saturday’s shock defeat to France with a scintillating 10-2 win against hosts South Africa in the FIH Hockey Pro League 2022.
Drag flick specialist Harmanpreet Singh (36’, 52’, 60’, 60’) starred in the match with four goals, three of which where from short corners, while Surender Kumar (15’), Shilanand Lakra (27’, 48’), Mandeep Singh (28’), Sumit (45’) and Shamsher Singh (56’) also scored to ensure India ended their South African sojourn on a winning note. For South Africa, Daniel Bell (12’) and Connor Beauchamp (53’) scored goals and the scoreline doesn’t reflect how much they troubled their more pedigreed opponents.
Earlier in the match, both teams displayed high intensity hockey offering some thrilling moments at both ends of the field. While it was India who were quick to create a scoring opportunity through a PC in the very first minute of the game, India’s ace dragflicker Harmanpreet’s drive was well blocked by the South African defenders. Five minutes later, South African defenders fashioned a similar block when Jugraj Singh took the drag hoping to fetch India an early 1-0 lead.
The hosts, however, did not miss an opportunity to convert when Cassiem brothers worked their skills to earn South Africa their first PC of the match. In a re-take, Daniel Bell struck a fine goal to put his team ahead by 1-0 in the 12th minute. India, stung by another slow start, were quick to reply when Surender Kumar pumped a brilliant field goal in the 15th minute. It would be first of the many stunning goals India would score on the night.
While South Africa showed great intent in the second quarter, working towards regaining the lead, an alert Indian defence kept them from scoring. In the 24th minute, experienced Indian goalkeeper PR Sreejesh came up with a fine save when South Africa were awarded a PC. In the following minutes, Shilanand Lakra scored from a good assist by Shamsher Singh while Mandeep Singh scored India’s third goal and put his team ahead by a comfortable 3-1 lead that was actually nowhere near comfortable in terms of match play.
After the 10-minute half-time break, South Africa bounced back with some potent attack. They mounted pressure when a penalty stroke was awarded after Indian infringement, but Krishan Pathak was exceptional in his attempt to make a brilliant save and denied the hosts an opportunity to narrow the lead to 2-3.
In the following minutes, Pathak braved a flurry of shots on goal by South African attackers, not allowing any room for a goal. While South Africa continued to be dominant with ball possession, they could not succeed in converting goals. That would be the telling difference.
India, in the meantime, scored through Harmanpreet Singh’s dragflick in the 36th minute followed by a goal from Sumit that put India ahead by 5-1. They amassed five more goals in the final quarter through Shilanand (48’) and Harmanpreet (52’, 60’, 60’) and Shamsher Singh (56’). Although South Africa scored through a PC well-converted by Connor Beauchamp in the 53rd minute, they couldn’t stop India from ending their campaign with a 10-2 win on board.
India men’s team’s matches in SA come to an entertaining end.
Feb 8: India 5-0 France
Feb 9: India 10-2 South Africa
Feb 12: India 2-5 France
Feb 13: India 10-2 South Africa
India will next play against Spain on 26th and 27th February in the home-leg of the FIH Hockey Pro League 2022. The double-header will be held at the iconic Kalinga Hockey Stadium in Bhubaneswar, Odisha.
|South Africa||12||22||BELL Daniel||Penalty Corner||1 - 0|
|India||15||6||Kumar Surender||Field Goal||1 - 1|
|India||27||99||Lakra Shilanand||Field Goal||1 - 2|
|India||28||11||Singh Mandeep||Field Goal||1 - 3|
|India||36||13||Singh Harmanpreet||Penalty Corner||1 - 4|
|India||45||17||Sumit||Field Goal||1 - 5|
|India||48||99||Lakra Shilanand||Field Goal||1 - 6|
|India||52||13||Singh Harmanpreet||Penalty Stroke||1 - 7|
|South Africa||53||35||BEAUCHAMP Connor||Penalty Corner||2 - 7|
|India||56||21||Singh Shamsher||Field Goal||2 - 8|
|India||60||13||Singh Harmanpreet||Penalty Corner||2 - 9|
|India||60||13||Singh Harmanpreet||Penalty Corner||2 - 10|